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Lions at Glasgow Zoopark
Photos J.C. Aitken ©

African Lions

  • Habitat: open, or lightly wooded grasslands.
  • Food in wild: mainly large ungulates. Zebra and antelope are the favourite food of the lion.
  • Status: common in protected areas.
  • Located: mainly East Africa. A rare sub-species exists in Gir forest, India. The lion used to roam over most of Africa, Arabia, Persia (Iran) and India.
  • Size: 1.8 - 2.5 metres.
  • Impressive characteristic: Distinguisging the lion from the rest of the cat family, is the mane of the male.
  • Weight: 180 - 230 kg.
  • Gestation: 13 - 16 weeks.
  • Number of Young: 2 - 6 cubs.
  • Lifespan: Up to 29 years in captivity.

Glasgow Zoo has maintained African Lions since the day it opened on 9th July 1947. The original animals Singh and Topsy were presented by Dublin Zoo and London Zoo.

Lion cubs are very small when new-born. At first, the female hardly comes out of the secluded den. Gradually, over the next three or four weeks she emerges more often. Sometimes she carries a cub, and with time her outings lengthen.

It's Rude to Stare

Staring, or a prolonged fixed gaze on a human or animal by another human or animal, is taken as a sign of very unnatural interest, usually some form of aggressive threat. If you want to build up trust with any animal, don't stare. Do as they do, which is to glance at you from time to time while otherwise looking past you into the distance. A " friendly " lion glances momentarily at you then looks away. An " unfriendly " lion fixes his gaze in a very determined and unblinking manner. If you do the same to him he immediately categorises you as " the enemy ". In a matter of just a few days, he will be reacting aggressively whenever he sees you coming.

Beware of Falling Bones!

I read with interest the story about an 11-week-old wolf cub from the Highland Wildlife Park near Kincraig in Kingussie.
The cub was knocked out after its father swung round at feeding time and caught it in the face. Thankfully, after treatment, the cub made a full recovery.
It reminded me of an episode some years ago at Glasgow Zoo.
A male lion, after finishing eating a piece of meat, dropped the bone And it landed on the head of its eight-week-old cub.
It staggered around for some time, but it, too, recovered. Perhaps this sort of happens in the wild all the time, but there is nobody around to see it.


Glasgow Zoo Lions


Singh and Topsy

Management of Wild Cats In Captivity

Simba the lion cub dies

The Jungle wedding

Historical Lions in Stirling

Barbary Lions

Breeding African Lions

The lion ("Lyin' ") Song

David Livingstone's Attack by a lion
lion cub