Lions of the Serengeti

Banner for African lions at Whipsnade

The Lions of the Serengeti exhibit provides unique and intriguing views of our pride of African lions – a truly unforgettable experience.

Male African lion at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Interesting facts about the king of the beasts, the majestic African Lion.

Spike the african lion with a lioness

Common Name:

African Lion

Scientific Name:

Panthera leo

Distribution:

Extinct in North Africa. Now found in Africa, south of the Sahara

Size:

Length: Male: 2.6 - 3.3m excluding tail
Female: 2.4 - 2.7m excluding tail
Tail: 60 - 100cm

Weight: Male: 150 - 250kg
Female: 110 - 180kg

Lifespan:

In the wild the lifespan of lions is approximately 15 years, however in captivity it can be as long as 30 years.

Breeding:

Lions reach sexual maturity at 2 years old and mate at all times of the year. The gestation period is 102-112 days which usually results in 2 to 5 cubs.

Lifestyle:

Lions are social and territorial animals who live in family groups called prides

Diet:

Carnivorous, mainly mammals from giraffes to buffalo, deer and carrion

Habitat:

Varied, from grasslands of East Africa to sands of the Kalahari Desert

Status in the Wild:

Range constantly being reduced but not endangered yet.

Special Features:

Lions are unique among cats in that the male can be easily distinguished from the female (lioness) because he possesses a mane of hair. As in most cats, the eyes are adapted for seeing at night when they do a lot of hunting. The claws can be retracted in sheaths to prevent them getting blunted when walking across the savannah, which they can do almost noiselessly on soft pads.

Spike the african lion with a lioness

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Book your tickets now for a wild day out!

The Lions of the Serengeti exhibit provides unique and intriguing views of our pride of African lions – a truly unforgettable experience.

A lioness sleeping

Intrepid visitors can experience the sights and sounds of Tanzania's Serengeti National Park in the heart of Bedfordshire, where they will follow a village trail visiting a traditional Maasai dwelling and goat enclosure (boma) on the way to the lion viewing area. They will also be able to learn how herders share the environment with this awe inspiring king of the beasts.

Our innovative viewing area offers uninterrupted views of our pride roaming the plains of Whipsnade, through three metre high floor to ceiling viewing windows. We have even constructed a 'kopje' or sculpted mound in front of the windows, which has proved to be a favourite haunt of the lions, allowing a real close encounter with the pride of Whipsnade!

We have also included special feeding and demonstration areas where keepers will undertake their daily routines to ensure that as well as watching the lions up close, visitors will be able to hear them roar and even smell them! All in all, a truly sensory experience which introduces visitors to some of the complexities of practical conservation in this East African region.

Spike the african lion with a lioness

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Book your tickets now for a wild day out!

Find out more about our pride of Lions and how it has grown.

A pride of lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Lions were brought back to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in 2005 for the first time since 1998. Spike is the head male of the pride and there are 2 grown females, Kachanga and Mashaka-Lila.

In a very exciting development, Spike and Mashaka-Lila had cubs in April 2006:

  • Kia (female)
  • Neo (male)
  • Toto (male)
  • Kato (male)

Meet them face to face at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

African lions at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Book Tickets

Book your tickets now for a wild day out!