In the wild Mother Nature behaves in ways that are foreign to us. Lions live in a system called prides that can consist of fifteen to forty individuals and are based around related females. In fact, the majority are females. Lions are very family oriented and it is rare for them to allow an unrelated lion to join their pride.
Lionesses usually begin to have cubs after 4 years of age with litters of one to five babies. The mother will either nurture or neglect them and, if neglected, other lionesses will allow the cubs to suckle. Cubs are born once every two years and, despite eating meat after three months, they will continue to nurse for three more months. Lionesses will also babysit one another’s cub while the mother is away on a hunt.
Cubs become capable of hunting at two years and are fully grown by five or six years. Male cubs leave the pride when challenged by another male or are killed. Before they establish their own groups they usually travel alone or in pairs with other related males. A lioness has a difficult time joining another pride because they are usually unrelated.
Female lions are the prime hunters and they work together by splitting into groups. Each lioness has her own unique role that contributes to the success of the hunt. Lions can hear prey from a mile away and can smell nearby prey and estimate how long it was in the area and their eyesight is five times better than a humans. The male lions always eat first and remains are usually left for vultures.
Males urinate on their territory to mark it as their own. A lions roar can be heard five miles away and is also used to scare off intruders. Among their pride, however, lions can be quite affectionate and playful while resting, which can last up to sixteen to twenty hours a day. They show affection by head rubbing, licking and rolling around with each other.
The mane of a full grown lion reflects his masculinity and health. A lion with a thick, dark mane denotes good health and allows the lion to appear stronger. Female lions are also more attracted to males with thick manes and will mate more often with them.