Lions are the second largest cat species, behind the tiger.  Lions are tawny in color with dark tufts of hair at the ends of their tails.  Lions are sexually dimorphic, meaning there is a visual difference between males and females.  Male lions sport a mane (a ruff of hair) around their necks and females do not.  Lions are also the only social cats, living in family groups called prides.

Lifespan

The average lifespan for a lion in the wild is 8 to 10 years. In captivity, they can live between 15 and 18 years.

Shape & Size

Male lions average between 300 and 575 pounds and females between 250 and 400 pounds. Lions have large, muscular front legs to drag down their prey. Lions use their powerful, retractable claws to grip their prey and then use their weight and strong front legs to pull the animal off its feet.

Color Pattern

Lions are a tawny or light brown color. The backs of their ears are a darker brown or black, and they are the only cats with dark tufts of hair on their tails. Male lion manes can range in color from blonde to dark brown and can be a variety of thicknesses.

Behavior

Lions are the only social cats that live in family groups. Lions have excellent eye sight and hunt mostly at night. The females do the majority of the hunting and each member of the hunting party has their own specific job. Male lions are charged with protecting their territory and will often hang back and wait for the hunting party to return. Because they are larger and bulkier, male lions are less efficient hunters than female lions.

Habitat

Lions live in grassy plains, the savanna, and dry, open woodlands in Africa. A lion pride’s territory can be anywhere from 15 to 400 square miles.

Principal Threats

Lions have long been killed as part of tribal rituals and for their supposed medicinal and magical powers; it is feared that they may replace tigers as sources of ingredients for Chinese medicines. Lions are also threatened by burgeoning human populations. As human population grows into lion habitat, lions lose their range and also become targets for poisoning and poaching by livestock ranchers. Trophy hunting is another threat to their well-being, with white lions being especially popular in canned hunting.

In the wild, lions face an indirect threat from climate change called co-infection in which they acquire both canine distemper and a tick-borne parasitic disease during times of severe drought; together, the diseases cause high mortality. In 1994, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania lost 30% of its lions within a few weeks. Such droughts are predicted to become more common. In addition to distemper, most African lions eventually acquire feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), though they do not become sick from it. They also suffer parasitic diseases. Hyenas and leopards will kill lion cubs. Weak, sick, and wounded adult lions may be attacked by hyenas as well.

Panthera leo

Range Map

Range

Lions can be found from Sub-Saharan Africa to Northern South Africa.

Food

Lions are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat to survive. Lions eat a variety of wild animals in Africa, including zebras, antelope, and gazelle. Occasionally, they will take down larger prey, such as rhinos, giraffes, and elephants.

Reproductive Habits

A lion’s gestation period is about 110 days. A litter will contain between two and four cubs.

Behavior

Lions are the only cat to live in family groups. Although there are occasional scuffles between pride members, they rarely last long. Most of the time, lions in prides can be seen showing affection for each other. All female lions in the pride help care for the cubs and males will help protect the cubs as well. Lions spend the majority of their day sleeping, hunting mostly at night. Lions are very strategic when they hunt, with all members of a hunting party having a specific role to fill.

Conservation

Lions are currently listed as vulnerable. They are considered a keystone species, which means that the ecosystems where they live would change drastically if lions were to go extinct. Since the killing of Cecil the Lion (by an American dentist), many people have now become aware of "canned hunting" in which lions are raised to be killed. Canned hunting is not a means of conservation.

Fun Facts

  • A lion pride can range from as little as 3 lions up to as many as 40
  • Female lions will outnumber males in a pride
  • Female lions do the majority of the hunting, but the males will always eat first
  • Lions sleep around 20 hours per day
  • All female lions in a pride are related to each other

About Carolina Tiger Rescue

Carolina Tiger Rescue is a 501(c)3 nonprofit wildlife sanctuary whose mission is saving and protecting wild cats in captivity and in the wild.

Carolina Tiger Rescue

1940 Hanks Chapel Rd.
Pittsboro, NC 27312
(919) 542-4684
(919) 542-4454
info@carolinatigerrescue.org

Wildlife should be in the Wild

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Education

  • We believe the ideal home for wildlife is in the wild.
  • We believe it is critical to conserve their native habitats.
  • We believe wild animals should not be kept as pets.
  • We believe captive breeding should ONLY be done in accordance with Species Survival plans.
  • We believe all wild animals, both captive and in their native habitats, deserve to be treated with respect and not exploited for entertainment and commercial purposes.

Visit Carolina Tiger Rescue

Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Public Tours

Twilight Tours

Coming out for a tour is a great way to learn more about the animals that call Carolina Tiger Recue home. We offer many different types of tours.  Public tours are great for adults and families. Twilight tours are for adults only (18 years of age and older). Tiger Tales are a perfect option if you want to bring out really young children. Find the tour that is right for you and enjoy a walk through the sanctuary. 

For all tours, tickets must be purchased in advance.

Have Fun Learning at Carolina Tiger Rescue

Field Trips

Field Trips

Virtual Field Trips link

Virtual Field Trips

Education is key to our mission.  We enjoy teaching “kids” of all ages!  Our field trips, both virtual and onsite, are ideal for groups of kids.  Our “Kid for a Day” Adult Camp provides a unique learning opportunity while allowing adults to channel their inner child.  While all of these opportunities are structured differently, in the end we want everyone to walk away knowing more about the animals we care for and what they can do to help protect them.

Our Rescues
Bobcat at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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BOBCATS

Caracal at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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CARACALS

Coatimundi at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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COATIMUNDIS

Cougar at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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COUGARS

Kinkajou at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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KINKAJOUS

In Memoriam
Leopard at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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LEOPARDS

Lion at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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LIONS

Ocelot at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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OCELOTS

Serval at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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SERVALS

Tiger at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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TIGERS

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Get involved at Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Individual Volunteering

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Group Volunteering

There are so many ways to be a part of Carolina  Tiger Rescue.  Individual volunteers are able to help in many aspects of our work, including animal care, tour guides, construction, and gift shop assistance.  Work groups come from community groups, colleges, work places, and more!  It’s a great way to spend a day and it helps care for the cats.

Ways to Support Carolina Tiger Rescue

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Big Cat Dinner Club Information

Big Cat Dinner Club

Whether it’s a monthly donation or a one-time gift, a symbolic animal adoption, a gift to the Big Cat Dinner Club, or any other kind of donation, your contribution to Carolina Tiger Rescue goes straight to work helping to save wild cats in need.  Don’t see what you are looking for, our development staff can help you find a meaningful way to support the cats!