(Panthera leo) #62-79

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Physical characteristics and distribution

The Lion (Panthera leo) is a mammal of the family Felidae. The male Lion, easily recognized by his mane, may weigh up to 250kg (550lb). Females are much smaller, weighing up to 150kg (330lb). In the wild lions live for around 1014 years.

It normally walks at about 4 km/hr and can run for a short distance at 50-60 km/r. It may leap up to 12 meters. African lions may enter trees by jumping, but are not adept climbers. Senses of sight, hearing and smell are thought to be excellent. Activity may occur at any hour, but is mainly nocturnal and crepuscular. The average period of inactivity is about 20-21 hours per day. Many lions remain throughout the year in one area, but some animals are nomadic, following the migrations of the ungulate herds. African lions attain the greatest geographical distribution of any terrestrial nonhuman mammals.

The Lion is a predatory carnivore which usually hunts by a slow stalk, alternately creeping and freezing, utilizing every available bit of cover; It then makes a final rush and leaps upon the prey. If the quarry cannot be caught in 50-100 meters it usually tires and gives up. Small prey may be dispatched by a swipe of the paw. Large animals are seized by the throat and strangles or it suffocates them by clamping its jaws over the mouth and nostrils. Two or more Lions may hunt a single prey in concert. An entire pride may fan out and close in on the prey from all sides. Most hunts fail. Lions eat any thing it can catch and kill, but it depends mostly on animals weighing 50-300 kg. Important prey are wildebeest, impala, other antelope, giraffe, buffalo, wild hogs and zebra. Carrion is readily taken. Up to 40 kg of meat can be consumed by an adult male at one meal. After making a kill, a lion may rest in the vicinity of the carcass for several days.

A non-nomadic pride may consist of 15 animals. The basis of a pride is a group of related females and their young. These associations may persist for many years.; Young males depart as soon as they approach maturity. Several adult males often move about together as a group. Males living in a group allow females to do all the hunting. African lions appear to behave asocially at a kill, with little tolerance being shown to subordinates and cubs. The lion has at least nine distinct vocalizations, including a series of grunts that apparently serve to maintain contact as a pride moves about. African lions proclaim their territory by roaring as well as by scent marking through urination and defecation, and by rubbing its head in a bush.

Females are polyestrous and heat lasts about 4 days. Gestation period is 100-119 days, and litters contain one to six young. The newborn weight is about 1300 grams each, their eyes may be open at birth or may take up to 2 weeks to open. Cubs follow their mother after 3 months, suckle from any lactating female in the pride, and usually are weaned by 6-7 months, participate in kills at about 11 months, and probably are not capable of surviving on their own until least 30 months. Sexual maturity is attained at around 3-4 years.

The preferred habitat of Lions are grassy plains, savannas, open woodlands and scrub country. It sometimes enters semidesserts and forests.

They are found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau(?), India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation

Our specimen of the Lion (Panthera Leo) was an adult male. It was perfused with fixative according to our standard protocol and was obtained from the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison, Wisconsin.

All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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