In Photos: A Lion's Life

A Mighty Mane

African lion mane

(Image credit: Beverly and Dereck Joubert)

Only the male African lions proudly sport their species' signature mane. The shaggy hair completely encircles their heads. Male cubs begin to develop manes at age 2, when they become sexually mature.

Guarding Their Territory

african lion, lion

(Image credit: Ken Stansell | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

A pride's males are mainly in charge of defense duties, protecting the group from intruders and members of other prides that may be up to no good. They are always ready to fiercely defend their territory, which they mark with their scent and urine. Females also assist in marking a pride's domain, which can encompass approximately 100 square miles (259 square kilometers).

White Lion: A Rare Beauty

white African lion

(Image credit: Duncan Noakes | Dreamstime)

Most lions' coats are a tawny yellow-gold, and males' manes range in color from blond to rusty brown or even black. However, African lions can also be silvery yellow, grey or chocolate brown with a tan underside. The fluffy tuft at the end of a lion's tail usually fades to a black tip. African lions with a rare genetic disorder known as leucism are born with snowy-white coats, but since the condition differs from albinism, their eyes are golden, not red.

Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.