How do lions care for their young?

It’s hard out there for a young lion

Lionesses often chooses to give birth to her vulnerable, blind young under the shelter of a rock, or in the thick undergrowth. After about two months, the cubs are ready to meet the rest of the pride. Lionesses share parental duties, and all lactating females in the group will assist with feeding until the infants are weaned. If a mother is killed, her sisters will often take over and raise her orphaned young.

Play is an incredibly important in cub development, allowing them to practice the skills required to become competent adult hunters. The cubs watch the females hunt and will attempt to chase anything that moves from ants to birds and even baboons. They quickly learn which of the local wildlife is worth stalking, so by the time they reach adulthood will rarely waste time attempting to hunt animals that are too large, too dangerous, or too quick to escape. Sometimes the females will bring small prey back for the cubs to practice on, re-releasing it to allow them to hone their hunting skills.

Males are aggressive, but will tolerate their own cubs, even allowing them close enough to feed. Their most important parental role is protecting their offspring from rival males, who will kill any existing young cubs if they succeed in taking over the pride. When the lionesses are hunting, the males stay behind to protect their offspring. When threatened, females will corral the pride’s cubs, picking them up by the scruff of the neck and moving them to safety. By the time they are a year old, they are able to be left alone and at this point will behing attempting to catch their own food in earnest. Initial attempts are often clumsy and unsuccessful, so until they have become competent hunters the pride will share food with the young lions.



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