Area of zoo
Enclosure status
IUCN status
Scientific name
Panthera leo
Extinct in North Africa. Now found in Africa, south of the Sahara
Varied, from grasslands of East Africa to sands of the Kalahari Desert

African lion facts

How strong is a lion?

Lions can run at up to 46 mph and can weigh up to 190kg. An African lion's bite force is around 650-1000 PSI in strength, which although strong enough to kill large prey in a single bite, is actually smaller than some other big cats like jaguars and tigers. 

Male vs female lions

Lions are unique among cats in that the male can be easily distinguished from the female (lioness) because he possesses a mane of hair.

Lion night vision

As in most cats, lions' eyes are adapted for seeing at night when they do a lot of hunting.

Lion claws 

Their 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.

What do African lions eat?

African lions are carnivorous, mainly eating mammals from giraffes to buffalo, deer and carrion.

What threats do African lions face in the wild?

African lions are categorised as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Their population is decreasing with threats including hunting, and habitat destruction for logging, livestock farming or housing. 

Visit Whipsnade Zoo

African lioness Winta at Whipsnade Zoo

Are there African lions at Whipsnade Zoo?

Yes, Whipsnade Zoo is home to African lions.

Two-year-old lionesses Waka and Winta arrived at Whipsnade from Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in early May 2023. And they were joined in June by a male lion, Malik, from Neuwied Zoo in Germany. The 18-month-old will form a new pride with Waka and Winta. We hope to hear the pitter patter of tiny paws over the next few years! 

African lioness Winta at Antwerp Zoo
© Antwerp Zoo, Jonas Verhulst
African Lion Khari at Whipsnade Zoo
African lions Winta (left) and Khari (right)
African lions Waka and mum Tasa at Antwerp Zoo
© Antwerp Zoo, Jonas Verhulst
North African lion Malik
© Neuwied Zoo
Waka with mum Tasa (left) and Malik (right)

Visit our lion habitat at Whipsnade Zoo

While Whipsnade is home to an African lion habitat, London Zoo has Asiatic lions

African lioness Waka at Whipsnade Zoo
Lion gifts

Find the perfect present in our online shop with our lion gifts! Every purchases supports ZSL's vital science and conservation work. 

  • Lionesses Waka and Winta at Whipsnade Zoo

    Whipsnade Zoo Map

    Visit our lion habitat in the Africa section of the Zoo

  • A cheetah at Whipsnade Zoo


    Cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 100km per hour (70mph) and are the world's fastest land mammal.

  • Two scimitar-horned oryx at Whipsnade Zoo


    Learn more about Whipsnade Zoo's conservation work

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