Lion Quotient Answers



What do lions eat?

Proper nutrition is important to captive lions' health.  Lions may eat as much as 50-60 pounds of meat at one sitting but it is better to feed them about 15 pounds of vitamin fortified meat per day and fasting them at least one day a week.



How big do lions get?

Male lions can reach approximately 600 pounds.  Male lions are second in size only to the male Siberian Tiger, which may tip the scales at 700  pounds.  Female lions reach approximately 300+ pounds. Ligers, a man created cross hybrid between a male lion and a female tiger are the worlds largest carnivores, that may reach 800 + pounds.



How long do they live?

In the wild only one in three cubs survive while in captivity most cubs survive.  The life expectancy of lions in the wild seldom reaches 14 years while in captivity they can live 20 years.  They become sexually mature at three to four years of age.



How much do lions cost?

Like dogs the price of a lion varies greatly depending on pedigree, temperament, training, and other factors.  However, the overall costs to maintain a lion is in the thousands when you include fencing and housing, food and nutrition, veterinary care, training, licenses, permits, and insurance not to mention the owner's investment of time.



How do I get a lion?

General ownership of lions is not encouraged due to the tremendous responsibility, long term commitment, and discipline that these cats demand. We suggest that one works for an extended period of time at a licensed big cat facility to learn how to safely work around these majestic creatures first. Then afterwards you may reconsider owning such an animal that will control your life for the next twenty years.



Is it legal to own lions?

It depends on where you live.  Some cities, counties, and states have adopted laws or ordinances regulating or prohibiting ownership of large cats.



What is the difference between lions and other large cats?

Lions live in a family group called a "pride" and desire the company of others.  Most other large cats are solitary hunters.  Lions usually attack only when hungry or threatened.  Leopards, on the other hand, may kill for the sport of the chase.



Do handlers/owners need special training?

Absolutely!  Handling a large cat without training is like flying a plane without training.  Your success and survival rate is about the same.  Zoos offer "in house" training for their employees.  There are a few schools like Moorpark and Cat-Tails, which offer hands-on training.



Is it true that a "tame" animal will never "turn" on its owner/handier?

Lions are never tamed, but can be well trained.  Most instances of animals turning on their owners are the result of improper handling or negligence.



Can lions be returned to their natural habitat?

Most unlikely.  Captive cats cannot be introduced into the wild for several reasons.  They have no immunity to diseases in their natural habitats; local wild lions would reject them; they have no training in hunting or survival in the wild, which is what “mom”, teaches for the first two years in the wild. The cost in time, space and money would be great to "barbarerize" a cat back to the wild. Currently the Save China's Tigers are endeavoring  to do just that. They are taking captive born tigers and teaching them to survive in the wild. (see links)



What is the purpose for having large cats in captivity?

Education and awareness of large cats' needs, habitats, characteristics etc. is the only hope for survival of these great species.  The destruction of their habitat is the number one factor in endangering the survival of many of today's large cats followed by poaching and disease.  Zoos simply do not have enough space and funds to support a broad gene pool base to ensure future generations that these animals won't be extinct.  Only with the addition of responsible private compounds and sanctuaries combined with purchasing large tracks of land for their future release and protection can this be accomplished.