LionApril 02, 2014 – For all of their roaring, growling, and ferociousness, lions are family animals and truly social in their own communities. They usually live in groups of 15 or more animals called prides. Prides can be as small as 3 or as big as 40 animals. In a pride, lions hunt prey, raise cubs, and defend their territory together. In prides the females do most of the hunting and cub rearing. Usually all the lionesses in the pride are related—mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and sisters. Many of the females in the pride give birth at about the same time. A cub may nurse from other females as well as its mother. Each pride generally will have no more than two adult males. While the females usually live with the pride for life, the males often stay for only two to four years. After that they go off on their own or are evicted by other males who take over the pride. When a new male becomes part of the pride it is not unusual for him to kill all the cubs, ensuring that all future cubs will have his genes. The main job of males in the pride is defending the pride's territory. A male's loud roar, usually heard after sunset, can carry for as far as five miles (eight kilometers). The roar warns off intruders and helps round up stray members of the pride. Hunting generally is done in the dark by the lionesses. They often hunt in groups of two or three, using teamwork to stalk, surround, and kill their prey. Lionesses aren't the most successful of hunters, because they usually score only one kill out of several tries. After the kill the males usually eat first, lionesses next—and the cubs get what's left. Males and females fiercely defend against any outside lions that attempt to join their pride. Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, lions are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigers, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, and cougars are also part of this grouping. Take the big cat quiz to see how much you know about these fierce felines. Then, just for fun, see which wild cat you’re most like with our personality quiz.
Mountain LionOctober 27, 2014 – The mountain lion goes by many names, including cougar, catamount, panther, red tiger, deer tiger, and puma. This cat can be found throughout much of South and North America. The mountain lion used to be found all over the United States, but now is primarily seen in the western U.S. An endangered subspecies of mountain lion also remains in Florida. These felines are comfortable in many different habitats and, aside from humans, have the widest geographic range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. In North America, mountain lions eat mainly deer, but they also eat smaller animals, such as mice and rabbits. These cats have a poor sense of smell, but have excellent vision and hearing that help them hunt in the early morning and evening hours. Their powerful hind legs enable them to jump as far as 40 to 45 feet (12 to 13 meters). This carnivore stalks its prey until an opportunity arises to pounce. Mountain lions “cache” their prey, or hide it under leaves and soil, where they can come back and feed on it over the course of several days. Mountain lions don’t roar, but females have a loud scream, which is believed to attract males. Females have an average of two to four cubs per litter and give birth in a den. The cubs are born with spots, which usually disappear by the time they are roughly nine months old. Their eyes also change from blue to yellow by the time they reach 16 months old. By 18 months, the young cats leave their mom to go fend for themselves. Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, mountain lions are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and jaguars are also part of this grouping. Take the big cat quiz to see how much you know about these fierce felines. Then, just for fun, see which wild cat you’re most like with our personality quiz.
Asiatic LionMay 10, 2011 – Think lions only live in Africa? Think again. Read about this small, endangered group of lions indigenous to India.
African lionMay 10, 2011
California Sea LionDecember 12, 2014 – California sea lions live on the western coast of North America from the Baja California peninsula in Mexico to British Columbia. These semi-aquatic mammals feed on fish, squid, and shellfish. They are generally found in open water, where they prefer to fish, but are sometimes found in rivers near the coast as well. These sea lions are an intelligent and social species. They travel in groups of 12 or more, and hang out on man-made structures such as piers and jetties. They gather on remote sandy beaches and rocky areas to breed. During breeding season, males claim and defend their territories. Mothers usually give birth to a single pup after a gestation period of 11 months. The pups are able to swim at birth, although young pups stay on the beach rather than venturing into the water. California sea lions are usually dark brown, although some females can appear tan. Pups are born with a dark, black-brown coat. The California sea lion is faster than any other sea lion or seal in the world. They can dive to depths of 900 feet, and can stay underwater for nearly ten minutes without breathing by slowing their heart rate. Text by Sara Zeglin / NGS Staff
Steller Sea LionNovember 11, 2010 – Get to know the giant Steller sea lion, which can weigh 1.2 tons. Learn how these massive carnivores feed their growing bodies.
Golden Lion TamarinMarch 10, 2011 – Hear the sad story of the golden lion tamarin. Find out why these striking primates are in danger of disappearing forever.
California sea lionJuly 19, 2023
Are South Africa’s captive lions inbred?August 08, 2023 – A new gene study questions a widely held belief about the thousands of lions living on farms across the country bred for tourism, trophy hunts, and for use in traditional medicine.
Comeback critter: Golden lion tamarinMarch 17, 2023 – Scientists help these primates reclaim their forest home.
Inside the race to save West Africa’s endangered lionsJune 28, 2022 – It's crucial to learn as much about these rare cats as fast as possible to save them from local extinction, conservationists say.
No more lion farmsMay 06, 2021
Coyotes risk it all to steal from mountain lionsApril 08, 2022 – Balancing the prospect of eating or being eaten, mid-sized carnivores snatch food from apex predators more often than previously thought.
Lemon Lion CupcakesSeptember 15, 2020 – Share these supercute lion cupcakes with new friends—or old!
Shivani Bhalla: For the lions, for KenyaMarch 25, 2021 – National Geographic Explorer and conservation biologist Shivani Bhalla works to safeguard the future of Kenya’s rapidly declining lion population.
How this technology is saving lionsSeptember 03, 2020 – September 03, 2020