Except for the tiger, the lion is the largest member of the cat family.
A lioness measures about three meters. The lion stand over one meter tall at the shoulder. He has long hair on his head, neck and shoulders. The hair here is called the mane. The lioness has no mane and is usually a little smaller. When her cubs are born, they are about the size of domestic cats. They have dark spots which disappear later.
Both the lion and lioness hunt for food, usually at night. Like tigers and cats, they can see well in poor light. They hunt grazing animals, such as buffaloes, zebras, and antelopes. Unless they are very hungry, most lion do not attack man or a large animal, such as giraffe or a hippopotamus. Lions that are near a village may steal goats or donkeys or calves. The lion’s huge jaws open up to about thirty centimeters and can kill a medium-sized animal with one bite. The lion can run more than eighty kilometers an hour and jump over a barrier almost two meters high.
Lions sometimes hunt in groups. They work together to catch their prey. First, some of the lions hide. The others roar loudly and chase the grazing animal towards them. The hiding lions spring up and kill the animal. When a lion hunts alone, it approaches the animal stealthily and pounces on it.
You may see lions in a zoo or at a circus. In some zoos, they are kept in cages. Today in many zoos, you can find lions in a small open place, free to wander about as they please. They are separated from visitors by moats. At a circus, the trainer usually makes a lion get on a stool and stand on its hind legs.
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