Dominant Male Lion Makes Sure His Teenage Son Understands His Place

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Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: November 10, 2023

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male lion
© Jrossphoto/

At first, this footage looks as if it has captured one male lion defending his territory from a young contender. But the video notes explain that it is a father disciplining his sub-adult son. As the clip shows, even lion dads have to keep their teen sons in line sometimes!

Is It Normal for Male Lions to Live Together?

Lions are very social animals and like to live together. However, their social arrangements are not straightforward. The primary social unit for these felines is called a pride. These are made up of female lions and their offspring. Female cubs stay within the pride for life the group is made up of genetically related females.

The social arrangements of males are more complicated. Some males live alone. Others are attached to a pride. The ideal situation for a male lion is to be associated with a pride because this gives him the mating rights over the females. It is the only way in which he can ensure that his genes are passed on to the next generation. Male lions only stay with a pride for around two or three years and then they move on to another one. They may choose to leave of their own accord, or they may be displaced by a more dominant male.

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Some male lions live in groups called coalitions and these can be made up of related males or unrelated males. Once the sub-adult male in this clip reaches full maturity, he is likely to leave his father and try to establish dominance over his pride. A sub-adult lion is aged between two and four years and is equivalent to a human teenager.

Pride of lions in grass

Female lions and their offspring live in prides.

©Riaan van den Berg/

Do Lions Often Fight?

Lions only fight if they are forced to because they know that it risks injury. Most of the time, lions live very amicably. When fights do occur, they are usually short and involve teeth baring and a lot of posturing. In the confrontation in this clip, the dominant male is simply displaying his authority and is unlikely to cause any serious damage to his son.

Sadly, male lions are not so friendly towards the cubs of other males. When a male lion takes over a pride, he is quite likely to kill the existing cubs. This is called infanticide and is the way of him ensuring that the only offspring in the pride are his own!

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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