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Lion Pride

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Lion pride (Panthera leo) in field
Gallo Images-Denny Allen/ Stockbyte/ Getty Images

Lions are the only cat species that forms social groups. All other cats are lone hunters. The social groups lions form are called prides. A pride of lions typically includes about five females and two males and their young.

Prides are often described as matriarchal because more females belong to a pride, they remain long-term members of the pride and they live longer than male lions. The life of a male lion is socially more precarious than that of a female lion. Males must win their way into a pride of females and once they do they must fend off challenges from males outside the pride who try to take their place. Male lions are in their prime between the ages of 5 and 10 years and often do not live long after that period. Male lions rarely remain part of the same pride for more than 3 or 4 years.

Female lions often give birth at about the same time which means the cubs within a pride are of a similar age. The females will suckle one another's young but that doesn't mean it's an easy life for cubs within the pride. Weaker offspring are often left to fend for themselves and often die as a consequence.

Lions often hunt together with other members of their pride. The prey they capture usually weighs between 110 and 660 pounds. When prey within that weight range is not available, lions are forced to either catch smaller prey weighing as little as 30 pounds or much larger prey weighing as much as 2200 pounds. When forced to feed on small prey, lions make the kill and eat their catch by themselves. When forced to eat larger prey, they must hunt in groups and risk injury during a hunt due to the large size of their prey.

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