Courtesy Of

The Lion King Fan Site:
Lion Kings
(A Report on Lion Behavior)


 When I was in the Tenth grade (I'm a freshman in college now) I had the opportunity to do a reasearch paper on Lion Behavior. What I found out suprized me. Trying to compare it to TLK I find out how much Disney actually copied from nature.  I also found, in my oppionion, that Disney was accurate on some aspects of Lion Behavior, but found out on how innacurate they were on others.  Like in a regular Pride Scar would really be the next heir of the Thrown?  Read and Find out!

Lion Behavior


Two lioness bend down in the tall grass of the plains of Africa, moving ever so softly toward the unsuspecting prey. Soon one of the lioness is spotted, the herd of Wildebeest began a stampede. The two lioness rush out at the frighten herd. While unnoticed in the tall grass the stampede were rushing into two waiting lioness. In a matter of moments, the four lioness close in on the unsuspecting prey. This story demonstrates on how skillful a lion is at hunting. Lions are truly the king of their domain but the lions behavior are as majestic, in some ways, as the lions themselves.

Sociable cats

Lions are intensely social cats while other are so solitary (Animal Behavior p67). Most cats have a limited social life in part because they hunt small prey, unlike the lions who go after much bigger prey (Animal Behavior p67). Cheetah's and Leopards are examples of some unsociable cats. (Animal Behavior p67). The pride, a lions social system, is largely an adaption of cooperative hunting party. (Animal Behavior p67). The system is flexible so that the pride members, may hunt together or scatter depending on the availability of the prey (Animal Behavior p67). Although, all of it's members seldom roam together, the pride endures for years (Animal Behavior p67). Members of a pride will cooperate in hunting to stalk or ambush prey, and they combine defenses (Wildlife Encyclopedia p1286). After their meal, the lions drink at watering holes, then mosey over to a shady spot to cat nap (Ranee, Lynn p30). Lions actually devote very little time to hunting. They sleep about 21 hours a day (Animal Behavior p79). Lions sleep in a few shades or in the grass of the sun warmed savannah (Wild Cats p26). You'll often find lions laying around on their backs with their feet up or hanging over a tree limb.

Now in every pride there is one dominant male. The male gaurds the integrity of the pride by watching the cubs while the lioness are busy hunting and protecting it from intruders (Wild Cats p35). Rarely there will be more than three adults in a pride (Wild Cats p35). As the young cubs reach adult hood, around 2 years of age, they will challenge the leader for his position (Wild Cats p35). If they loose they are usually forced out of the pride and they either have to create their own or take over another (Wild Cats p35). Prides and their territories are usually acquired by conquest (Wild Cats p40). When one or two males show interest in another lions domain it means war (Wild Cats p40). These intrusions are mostly deliberate (Wild Cats p40). If the challenger is powerful enough to be a real threat, the battle can be bloody indeed (Wild cats p40). Once a territory is established a male lion is ready to defend it to the death (Wild Cats p41). The primary reason for establishing a territory is mating (Wild Cats p41). He considers all the females and there hunting territory his (Wild Cats p41). Sometimes if a male takes over the territory, he kills the young sucking cubs (Trails of Life p298). The lactating females with no hungry moths pulling on their tits quickly comes into season (Trails of Life p298).

A male lion's job in a pride is to protect his territory. The male lion is not nearly so vigilant in patrolling their pride (Wild Cats p40). Still they do leave warnings, and it is not uncommon for two male lions walking outside of the marked territory reminding the dominant male of that pride a grim reminder of his mortality (Wild Cats p40). Even though, lions are not the type of animals who want to fight all the time. Actually, lions try to avoid fights, preferring to escort strangers out of the area (Animal Behavior p 73). Encounters, usually are nothing more than a flurry of flashing claws and ferocious snarls (Animal Behavior p73).

Lioness play a major role, much as the males do, in the pride. Lioness in a typical pride do 80-90 percent of the hunting (Animal Behavior p70). Now when Lioness eat, they are sometimes is not a generous animal even to thier cubs (Animal behavior p68). Also at times, a male lion when eating will let the cubs eat with him when 40 percent of the meat is still left. Unlike male lions these felines will stay with the pride for life, although some have been known to leave at the age of 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age (Animal Behavior p70).


Lions choose the coolest hour to hunt. This probably serves as an energy conservation since their hearts are relatively small (National Geographic p42). Lions usually seek prey under a cover of darkness (Animal Behavior p78). In hunting everything has to be right. Even the rhythm of the moon is very important (National Geographic p42). A full moon probably makes a lion's hunt less successful (National Geographic p42). They probably become more visible to their prey with the light of the moon (National Geographic p42). Lionesses are patient hunters, pacing themselves to cease the right moment. Lioness hid behind tall grasses and shrubs, waiting (Animal Behavior p78). It waits until an animal or has lowered his head to graze (Animal Behavior p78). Lionesses spread out in a line a breast and begin to stalk their pery (Trails of life p101). They crouched motionless, moving only when observed (Trails of life p101). Lioness moves inch by inch, still watching their prey (Ranee, Lynn p29). Those at either end of the line usually advance faster than those of the center (Trails of Life p101). Leaving the center to wait for the upcoming herd (Trails of Life p101). They Lioness pay close attentions to one another's progress frequently glaring side to side checking each other (Trails of life p101).

They're not as swift as the cheetah and have to get considerably closer, usually to within twenty yards of the target, if they are to have a reasonable chance in overtaking their prey. (Trails of Life p101). Soon the prey detects them or a lioness will charge (Breding p50). The lioness' at the end may will drive some of the prey into the center where their companions are waiting (Trails of Life p101). Often times the first strike will not effectively make the kill (Wild Cats p20). In such instances, the lioness will be joined instantly by her sisters (Wild Cats p20). One lioness might go for the throat, to choke the victim and prevent it from scrambling to it's feet. Another might attack the hind quarters, being careful to avoid it's hooves (Wild Cats p20). The most common method of killing is to leap at the prey breaking it's neck with it's paw (Wild Life Encyclopedia p1287). A lion will kill a hippopotamus by scoring its flesh with it's claws in a running battle (Wild Life Encyclopedia p1287). As you can see their skill of hunting is a remarkable feat. How a lioness deliberately drives the herd in the center of their hunting party is behavior that is still being argued by scientist today (Trails of life p101). Most lion watcher's have concluded that this attack is one that happens by chance (Trails of Life p101).

Lions obtain food three ways (Wild Cats p24). They kill there food, scavenge from other predators, eat animals from disease or old age (Wild Cats p24). When prey is killed, lions will follow a precise eating pattern (Wild Cats p24). The preys belly is ripped open and the heart, liver and kidneys are eaten first (Wild Cats p24). Next the remaining meat is devoured, hide, hair and all (Wild Cats p24). Usually starting on the hindquarters working forward (Wild Life Encyclopedia p1286). Although the lioness does all the hunting. The pride has a hierarchy system (Animal Behavior p71). The large male would eat first. Then comes the lioness and whatever left of the prey the cubs would eat.

A lion will devour almost any kind of meat, from that of a mouse to a Hippopotamus (Wild Cat p22). On occasion, lions will be cannibals that they eat other lions. A male Lion, Although it's not natural, famished, and irritable, to eat a cub (Wild Cats p22). Lions will sometimes eat other dead lions that have died from old age or disease (Animal Behavior p71). Lions usually will respect animals bigger than they are, but sometimes they ell attack (Wild Cats p22). Although strongly carnivores, lions will take fallen fruit at times (Wildlife Encyclopedia p1286).


The launguage of most cats language is less developed and complicated than that of other animals. Because cats are more antisocial (World of Animals p170). The lion is the cat family exception, being more social by nature than other felines therefore able to make a greater variety of sounds (World of Animals p170). Lions communicate with different noises such as ferocious roars to call another lion or a soft rumble to say their happy (Ranee, Lynn p29).

Off in the distance in the savannah's of Africa, you listen and a roar comes out of the deep scaring you. The lion's roar is truly the voice and sound of Africa. The lions roar is the awesome message to the world that he is lord and master to all he surveys (Wild Cats p41). A lion's roar can mean many things. One of them is to warn any would be intruders of his presence (Wild Cats p41). A strange lion might interpret the roar as "This land is mine" (Animal Behavior p41). Males also leave a calling card in the area (Animal Behavior p72). Consisting of a scent mixed with urine on bushes and turfs of grass (Animal Behavior p72). This signals to any nomadic lion that he is in another lions territory (Animal Behavior p72). To the lioness the roar means protection or just "Here I am" (Animal Behavior p72).

Lions and lioness communicate differently other than a roar. On the hunt a lioness lashes her tail but just before the final attack it holds it's tail straight out behind (Colliers Encyclopedia p675). If enemies approach a lioness, she will give off warning signals (Ranee, Lynn p30). Flattering her eyelids and lashing her tail (Ranee, Lynn p30). They also deep in contact with low growls to coordinate activities (Cosgrove Magreete p83). When lions are relaxing they show affection by licking gently or knawing at each other (Ranee, Lynn p30). Still as all animals do they communicate in such a unique and special way.


Of all the subjects we could talk about, we can't deny one of the animals most important behavioral aspects, breeding! A Lion shows affection during it's breeding period (Wild Cats p37). It is believed that some lions are monogamous, while most lions are polygamous (Coliers Encyclopedia p676). For lions their is no fixed breeding season. The mating period begins when the female comes into season (Wild Cats p37). During the mating period the lion is a devoted mate (Coliers Encyclopedia p676). During this time little attention is paid to food and other animals that pose a threat (Colliers Encyclopedia p676). The mating couple separates from the rest of the pride and spends a five day "Honeymoon" in secluded spots (Wild Cats p37). Copulation which occurs every 20 to 30 minutes takes place quickly and quietly except for an occasional growl (Wild Cats p37). In the height of passion the male nips the female on the neck (Wild Cats P37). The breeding time is a romantic experience between a lions everyday life.


Like many animals, lion cubs play and learn. Many animals play but the playing is a learning processes. A lions cubs first play is solitary and throught it he learns how to coordinate, control, develop it's muscles (Berril p32). Such playing helps things like a cubs eye and paw coordination (Mann, Charles p92).

A Lioness genuinely likes the company of her cubs (Wild cats p39). Even the powerful male sometimes take part in their learning (Wild Cats p39). Of course when a Lion cub plays it is preparing to learn on how to hunt. One kind of playing is when the mother lioness is laying on the ground with her tail twitching in the air (Trails of Life p50). Like a kitten fascinated by the length of yarn, the cub watches the motion and springs up at it (Mann, Charles p92). The cub catches the tail and starts chewing on it. Lion cubs will sometimes pounce on twigs (Freedman p47). Clamping down on the twig with their teeth and shaking their head as if it were prey (Freedman p47). Lion cubs will fight too, but before they start on their game they signal that this is not to be a serious quarrel (Trails of Life p52). They do this by walking in a stilted exaggerated fashion, so when they strike at one another they're keep the claws in (Trails of Life p152). When there about three months old they start to go along on hunts (Ranee, Lynn p31). The cubs under the lioness foot, walk the serangetti in travel formation - single file with some on the flanks (Animal Behavior p74). The cubs lag behind from the mother with the males at the rear (Freedman p44). Lion cubs watch their mothers on hunts (Berril p32). They watch how she crouches and they imitate it (Berril p32). By 10 months, they are well practiced at the art of stalking, keeping downward and carrying out the flanking maneuver (Timbergen, Niko p148). As they get bigger the lesson become more realistic. A lioness, having caught a gazelle, may not kill it and drag it back alive to her cubs (Trails of Life p52). This enables the cubs to practice bringing it down (Trails of Life p52). Still the real learning begins roughly around 2 years of age where they experience it for themselves (Timbergen Niko p148).


As we can see the way lions hunt and live are very different than their other feline relatives. Lions are very social and have a wider range of communications than other felines. The lions of Africa are unique to it's roar right down to the tips of how their cubs learn. They can learn on how to hunt there prey and how they react. No wonder why Lion have been noted as majestic animals even though parts of their behavior are not that majestic. Still we can't deny the fact no matter how you look at it the lion has a quality that only god could of gave him.


Attenborough, David. Trials of Life, a Natural History of Animal Behavior. Boston, Brown and Company. 1990. page 50, 52, 101, 298.

Berril, Jacqlynn. How Animals Learn. New York, Mead and Company. 1969. P32.

Cosgrove, Magret. Message and Voices the Communication of Animals. New York, Dodd, Mead and Company. 1974. p83.

Colliers Encyclopedia. New York. Macmillian Educational Company. 1989. p675, 676.

Freedman, Russel. Growing up Wild. New York, Holiday House. 1975. p44-47

Hunt, Jhon. A World full of Animals. New York, David Mckay Company. 1969 p170.

"Lions of Darkness". National Geographic. 94 August: p42.

Lynn, Ranee "Life in the pride". Disney Adventures. 30 July 1994: p29-31.

Payne, Melvine. The marvels of Animal Behavior. Washington DC, National Graphic Inc. 1972 p67-79.

Timgerge, Niko. Animal Behavior. New Jersey, Time Inc. 1965 p148.

Wildlife Encyclopedia. New York, Faunk and Wagnalls Inc. 1974 p1286-1287.

Wild, Wild World of Animals: The Cats. New York, Time Life. 1976 p18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 35, 37, 39-41.

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