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snakes, locusts, termites, peanuts, fruit, and rotten wood.

Baby lions are called cubs. And like most baby animals they need lots of loving care. A lion cub is totally helpless at birth. It is blind and can barely crawl. And it weighs less than 5 pounds (2 kg).

Cubs are born in-groups called litters. Usually, there are three cubs in a litter. But sometimes there are as many as five. For the first few weeks of their lives, the cubs stay hidden in a safe place away from the pride. Then their mother brings them out to join the "family."

In a pride, all of the females help take care of the cubs. When one mother is away hunting, the other lions feed and watch over her young. But sometimes, all of the adults join the hunt. Then the cubs are hidden in the tall grass or among the rocks.

A cub is born with dark spots all over its body. Some people think that the spots may make it harder for predators to see the cubs when they are hidden.

A mother lion carries her babies in her mouth -- just like a motherhouse cat. To keep predators from finding the cubs, she moves them to a new hiding place every few days.


Asiatic lions are endangered, and African lions have less living space than in times past. This is because people are taking away their homes, or habitats. The human population in Africa and Asia is rapidly growing, and people are turning more and more land into farms and ranches. This means that the lions have less food to eat and so it is harder for them to live.

Fortunately, wildlife organizations throughout the world are working hard to save the lions' habitats. And governments in both Africa and India have set aside special land where lions can live in safety.


Most experts agree that a lion will attack a human only if provoked. But the experts also suggest that knowledge of the warning signs are mandatory for anyone who travels by foot in the bush. An angry lion will drop to a crouch, flatten its ears, and flick its tail tip rapidly from side to side. Low grunts and growls can often be heard; and just prior to a charge, the tail is jerked up and down. While these warning signs are important, it is perhaps of greater importance that a lion can bolt from a crouch and travel 40 yards in less than 2.7 seconds.

The lion is the largest of the African cats, weighing up to 200 kilograms (440 pounds). Of the big cats, only the tiger is of greater size. The mane of a male lion is the most distinguishing characteristic of the species, although a small percentage of lionesses also have manes. The mane adds to the apparent size of a male lion, and it is believed that the mane provides added protection during male-to-male combat. The mane begins to develop at about one year of age but remains short and scraggly until the male is three or four years old. Another physical characteristic of lions is the tuft of long hairs at the end of the tail. This black tassel occurs in both males and females. Often, when females have cubs or are being courted by males, the tail tassel is carried high above the ground. Researchers believe that this behavior allows cubs or males to maintain visual contact with the female when she moves through dense vegetation. Fortunately for us, it is also an excellent way for humans to maintain visual contact.


You may have believed that African lions are the kings of the jungle. Well, that's just not true. But the reason isn't because lions aren't the lordly animals that you thought them to be; it's just that lions don't live in the jungle. They live in the open savannas in Africa, which are grassy plains with a few scattered trees.

Lions, of course, are big cats, but they're different from tigers, leopards and other big cats because they are very social animals. They live in a group called a "pride," which can have as many as 35 lions in it. Adult female lions, or lionesses, and cubs make up most of each pride, although two or three adult males live in it, too.

Hunting is how the lions get their food. They eat animals such as zebras, gazelles, hartebeests, gnus and even buffalo. Lionesses do most of the hunting but when it comes to eating, the adult males get their share first.

Lions often hunt together. A couple of lions may chase the prey and herd it toward other lions hiding in the grass. Then the hiding lions leap out and ambush the prey.

When lions eat, they often eat a whole lot of meat all at once. It's possible for a wild lion to eat up to 40 pounds of meat at one sitting. But then it may fast for several days and not eat anything. While it's fasting, the lion may be very, very lazy and just sleep a lot ... until its time to eat again.

If you've ever heard the roar of a lion, you know what a thundering sound it is. It's very possible for a lion's roar to be heard five miles away if the wind conditions are right. Lions often roar just after the sun goes down.

Male lions have manes around their necks. A young male will start to grow a mane when he's about a year old. It's believed that the mane helps protect the neck areas of males when they fight with each other.

Baby lions are called cubs. A lioness will usually have three or four cubs in an area protected by rocks or brush. Many animals are born with their eyes closed, but it's possible for a lion cub to be born with its eyes open. The cubs are very playful and love to wrestle and stalk each other. Lionesses often care for each other's cubs, which is a little bit like baby-sitting.

Although African lions aren't an endangered species, there's a lion subspecies that lives in Asia that is very rare and endangered.

So remember: While you may not be able to call a lion the king of the jungle, there's certainly no reason you can't call him the king of beasts.


In the past, you could find hundreds of thousands of these lions in the Middle East and Asia. Now, they number only 180, living on a small wildlife preserve in India. Like the African lion, they've suffered from the destruction of wild lands and from over hunting.

Once, people thought that Asian lions had shorter manes than African lions, but that's not the case. Both can have either long or short manes.



Every animal on earth lives by eating some other living organism -- plant or animal. The sequence of eaten and eater is called a food chain. The ultimate source of the energy contained in food comes from the sun. It is stored in the grass, and passed on to the grasshoppers. The alligator lizard, which eats the grasshopper, is the next link in the food chain. It, in turn, is eaten by a roadrunner, which then falls victim to the coyote.

The coyote is called an ultimate consumer because nothing hunts it for food.

But this food chain is a closed circle, the final link -- coyote -- being fastened to the first -- the grass. When the coyote dies, its chemicals are broken down by bacteria and returned to the soil, where they nurture more plant growth.

Like many wild dogs, the coyote is usually active at night, when it can hunt safely. You can often see a coyote in the early evening and morning, as it goes to and from its nighttime activities.

Coyotes can run as fast as 40 miles per hour, and at slightly slower speeds, they can run for miles. If a coyote can stay close to its prey, it has a good chance of getting a meal.


In hunting style, the dhole is like the hyena. It hunts in a pack with other dholes, whining, barking and whistling as they go. Whistling usually means that the hunt is unsuccessful, and the pack should reassemble for another try.

It is almost impossible for a single dhole to kill a deer, but five to twelve dholes can manage it together. After the kill, dholes compete for the morsels by eating very fast. A dhole can chew up almost nine pounds of meat in an hour.

Strong, wise, brave -- all these words describe the gray wolf. But another word needs to be added to the list: endangered.

Two hundred years ago, the gray wolf roamed throughout North America. But many of them were shot by European settlers and pioneers, who were busy cutting down the wolves' forest home for houses and towns. Those wolves that remained found fewer deer, moose and beaver to eat.

Today, the gray wolf continues to feel the impact of an expanding human population. That, and the popular belief that wolves shouldn't live near humans, continues to threaten their presence on our planet.


Did you know that the gray wolf is the largest member of the dog family? Apart from man, it once was the most widespread mammal outside the tropics. As humans move into its habitat, the wolf had to move out.

Did you know that after humans, wolves may be the most adaptable creatures of all? They're able to live in a wider variety of climates and habitats than most other animals and can survive on many different kinds of food.


Wolves prey on many species in the north -- musk ox, caribou, moose, deer, hares and even rodents. These carnivores are among the most maligned

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