Appearance: Both female and male lions sport yellow-gold coats, which vary lighter to darker. Lions are the only cats with tufted tails and manes (males only). A male lion’s mane serves several functions: indication of fitness, protection during a fight and distinguishes gender from a distance.
Habitat: Lions have a broad habitat tolerance, except for the interior of the Sahara desert and tropical rainforest. They thrive in open woodlands, thick bush, scrub and grass where there is sufficient cover for hunting and denning.
Family Life: The core unit of the lion’s society is the pride, which is made up of a group of related, non-dominant females and their cubs. Females give birth around the same time, and the young are raised communally. Groups of females do most of the hunting, while males, for the short time they live with females, focus on defending the pride.
Threats: African lions are at continuous odds with farmers who consider their existence a serious problem. Their foraging nature makes them vulnerable to poisoned carcasses put out by people to rid predators. Other threats include trophy hunting and habitat loss.
Class: Mammalia (Mammals)
Lifespan: 15 years in the wild; up to 30 years in managed care
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The Phoenix Zoo is one of the largest non-profit zoos in the U.S., caring for over 3,000 animals, with nearly 400 species represented, including many threatened/endangered species.