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Lion cubs - the ultimate lion cub fact guide

Lion cubs are helpless and blind at birth. Until they are mature enough to care for themselves, they rely on their mother to provide for them and keep them safe.

A baby lion cub will spend the most of its time in its den in the first few weeks following birth. The cub will start to venture outside of its den at about three months.

In this post we will be looking at facts about how lion cubs are raised within the pride.

You will learn how they are raised by female lions, whether the fathers are involved in this process and how they are trained to be hunters themselves and much more.

A baby lion is called a cub.

We'll demonstrate how female lions can pick up a lion cub by the scruff of the neck and move it without harming the baby.

Lion cubsCubs are good climbers and will play in trees

We also unfortunately must give you an important warning about where cubs fit in the lion hunting industry.

When it is time to give birth, a lioness leaves her pride and has her lion babies in dense cover. 

Cute photos of lion cubs.

A female lion mother will move her new cubs to a safe den.

The cub gets picked up by the scruff of the neck. 

The cub instinctively will relax its muscles and allow the mother to move it .

Mother lion protecting her cubs.Mother lion protecting her cubs.

Baby lions remain hidden for one to two months before being introduced to the rest of the pride.

What is a baby lion called?A baby lion is called a cub.

Baby Lion life cycle

Birth weight

1, 5 kilograms

Eyes open

at 3 to 11 days


Starts at 10 weeks; completed at 10 months

Hunting skills achieved

At 2 years old

Fully grown

3-4 years

All the lactating females in a pride suckle cubs showing no favoritism for their own offspring.

Lioness with cub pictures.

The reason for this is that each lioness is enhancing her own genes' success by helping to raise her sisters' offspring.

What do lions eat?

The lion babies start to eat meat at about three months and are weaned at about six months.

Because lions are carnivores, they will eventually only eat meat as they grow up. 

They are known as apex predators which means they are at the top of the food chain.

What do African lions eat?

Female lions stay within the pride all their lives but male lions either leave of their own accord or are driven off by the pride males at two to three years of age.

Lion cub playing with mum.Lion cub playing with mum.

Lion cubs spend most of their day playing which is serious business for baby lions.

Lion cubs play by stalking each other, playing hide and seek and wrestling with each other. 

With this they develop vital skills that they will use later in life when they have to hunt for themselves. 

Lion cubs playing with mom.

Do male lions help raise the baby lions?

African male lions generally play no paternal role when it comes to provisioning of food to the cubs.

After two years lion cubs will be driven away from the pride by their father.  While this may seem cruel, this is very important instinct which cause the father to do away with competition.

This action prevents inbreeding in the pride.

Lion cub meets dad.Lion cub with dad.

The responsibility for training them to hunt is also that of the mother.

Male lions will however protect lion babies from danger.

When do the cubs start hunting by themselves?

Lion babies stay with their mothers for about two years, by which stage they have joined the pride's hunting trips.

After one to two years of nomadic life these young males drive out the resident males of a pride and take over the females.

Lion cubs and mom.

If a small group of males leave together they are able to hunt as a group and stand a better chance of being able to take over a pride.

Females prefer their pride to have a large male coalition because it reduces the number of cubs lost to infanticide at take-overs.

The displaced male lions seldom live long since they no longer have lionesses to hunt for them.

Lionesses prefer their pride to be controlled by a large coalition of males whose strength in numbers will give them a longer tenure.

Are white lion cubs albinos?

White lion cubs are not albinos. True albino lions have no colour pigmentation at all.

White lion cubs simply lack the darker pigmentation due to a rare condition that results in reduced pigmentation.

White lion cub images.White lion cub facts.

White lions were first discovered in the Timbavati area of Mpumalanga in South Africa.

White lion cub photo.

In some African countries like Botswana, white lions are symbols of  royalty and seen as sacred to the Sepedi and Tsonga cultures.

Warning: Little known facts about the lion hunting industry

Tourists to Africa think there is something very irresistible about playing with small lion cubs that a few years later will be feared predators.

We must however send out a warning though that you should please note that several animal activist groups have found that the petting of lion babies by tourists is directly related to canned lion hunting industry.

What that means is that that cute cub you are stroking when you happen to be on an African safari is most likely to meet its end from a hunter with a high powered rifle or bow and arrow.

It has been found that some lion farmers rent out the cubs to tourist resorts and volunteerism organisations.

picture of lion cubWe understand the attraction of lion cub interaction for tourist but ask you to please do your homework about the organisations you plan to go to before you visit them.

The fact is that as soon as these lion cubs are too big to be handled by tourists, they are returned back to the lion farm that supplied them, only to be killed later by wealthy hunters. 

Another lie that some of these organisations pedal is that these cubs are orphans. They will often spin you a story about their parents that were supposedly killed by poachers. Others will tell you that the cubs were supposedly rejected by their mothers.

Most of the time the true facts indicate that the cubs were in fact removed from their mother at a very young age in order to be hand raised.

When they are raised in such a way they get used to human interaction and can then be used to raise funds through tourist interaction.

A life entertaining tourists is no life for a lion. Be very careful of the trend amongst tour operators who promote walks with lions and  lion cubs petting.  Those activities will cause them a lifetime of suffering.

The  challenge unsuspecting tourists have is how to identify a facility where the lions end up at canned hunting operations or where their body parts are traded.

Thankfully the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) has compiled a useful guide to help visitors make these decisions which we show you in the flowchart below:

African lions endangered

If you share our concerns about this practice in the lion industry please spread the news by liking this page and sharing it with your friends through social media.

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