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African Lion

Characteristics

The fur coloration of the African Lion varies from light buff to yellowish, reddish, or dark brown. The underside of its body is generally lighter. The lion is the only felid to have a tufted tail, a characteristic shared by both females and males. The tuft is black and absent at birth. The tuft develops around 5½ months of age and is readily identifiable at 7 months. The color of the male's mane varies from blond to black, generally becoming darker as the lion grows older. The head and body length is 170–250 cm (centimeters) (5 feet 7 inches – 8 feet 2 inches) in males and 140–175 cm (4 ft 7 in – 5 ft 9 in) in females. The tail length is 90–105 cm (2 ft 11 in - 3 ft 5 in) in males and 70–100 cm in females (2 ft 4 in – 3 ft 3 in). African Lions have short, powerful legs with retractable claws.

African Lions vary in size, depending on their environment and area, resulting in a discrepancy in recorded weights. Lions in southern Africa tend to be heavier than those in East Africa, in general and lions in captivity tend to be larger than lions in the wild. Weights for adult African Lions range between 150–250 kg (kilograms) i.e.330–550 lb (pounds) for males and 120–182 kg (264–400 lb) for females. After the tiger, the African lion is the tallest (at the shoulder) and the second heaviest of the felines. Powerful legs and a powerful jaw help the African Lion in bringing down its prey and killing it. In addition, the strong jaws are equipped with 8 cm (3.1 in) long canine teeth.

The only members of the cat family to display noticeable sexual dimorphism, the African Lion males and females look distinctly different. The mane of the adult male lion is the most unique characteristic of the species, making it appear larger and providing an excellent intimidation display.