“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is one of the most famous songs of all time, but how much do you know about those majestic creatures? Whether it’s a lot, or not much at all, you’ll enjoy these facts!

  1. The Latin name for a lion is Panthera Leo.
  2. Lions can live up to 14 years in the wild, and up to 20 in captivity.
  3. They are found in sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia.
  4. The most common subspecies are the Asiatic lion and the Barbary lion.
  5. Lions are the tallest of all big cats. The males can be up to 4ft in shoulder height, whereas the females only 3ft 3 in.
  6. The longest lion on record (from head to tail) was 12ft long.
  7. The heaviest lion on record was at Colchester Zoo in England. Named ‘Simba’, he weighed 826lbs.
  8. White lions get their colourisation from a recessive gene.
  9. Lions are generally inactive for 20 hours a day. They tend to spend 2 hours walking and 50 minutes eating.
  10. A group of lions is known as a pride, and consists of around six related females, multiple cubs of both genders and up to two males.
  11. Male lions have manes.
  12. Male lions are often excluded from the pride when they reach maturity.
  13. Females are the hunters of the pride as they are smaller, swifter, more agile and do not have heavy warm manes.
  14. Prey is often killed by strangulation, and not their sharp teeth.
  15. Lions typically eat: boars, buffalo, deer, gazelle, impalas, warthogs, wildebeest and zebras.
  16. When hungry, a lion will scavenge food from other predators, such as cheetahs, leopards and spotted hyenas.
  17. Lions have been known to mate with various other creatures. The most popular sub-species have been ligers (male lion and a tigress), and a tigon (male tiger and lioness).
  18. A lioness can have up to four cubs.
  19. Cubs are born blind and are carried from den to den by the nape of their neck to prevent their scent attracting predators.
  20. Lions have the loudest roar of all big cats and can be heard up to 5 miles (8 km) away.
  21. In Roman times, lions were kept and released into gladiatorial arenas to fight against the humans.
  22. In the 13th Century, King John kept lions in the Tower of London as part of his menagerie.
  23. In lion taming, the ultimate proof of control and dominance over the lion, is putting your head in its mouth.
  24. One of the most famous lions was Elsa. She was kept by George and Joy Adamson, and was the subject of many films and documentaries, such as Born Free (1966).
  25. In Egyptian mythology, Bast was the cat goddess of protection and the Eye of Ra. She is depicted as a lioness.
  26. In Greek mythology, the Nemean lion was killed by Heracles, who wore its skin as proof of his heroic deed.
  27. The Cowardly Lion from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) wished for courage so that one day he might become ‘King of the Forest’.
  28. One of the most famous lions in literature is Aslan the Great, who features in The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-56).
  29. Disney’s most acclaimed film is The Lion King (1994), which is the tale of a young lion named Simba, who is tricked into abandoning his role as future king of his pride.
  30. The film company MGM have used lions as a symbol since 1917. There have been many lions: Slats, Jackie, Telly, Coffee, Tanner, George and Leo.