Baby Lions: 5 Lion Cub Pictures and 5 Facts

Written by Heather Hall
Updated: September 27, 2022
Image Credit Keith Jenkinson/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Lions can have babies when they are two years old. They mate at all times of the year and have litters of two to five cubs.
  • Lions are nearing the endangered list. They are currently listed as vulnerable by the World Wildlife Organization. Three-quarters of their population is in decline.
  • Lions cubs are born with blue eyes just like domesticated house cats.

Lion babies! They’re born cute and cuddly and grow up into apex predators that rule savannas. Let’s dig into five facts about lion cubs and more importantly dive into five lion baby pictures when they’re at their most cute and cuddly.

1. Pregnancy, Gestation, and Litter Size

Lion baby - a lion cub
A lion cub looking as cute as can be!

Keith Jenkinson/Shutterstock.com

The gestation period of lions is in line with other big cats. While lion gestation periods are 110 days, other big cats are slightly shorter. For example, mountain lions’ gestation period is about 92 days, while cheetahs rarely exceed 95 days. Lions have about the same gestation period as tigers.

Still, the lion’s gestation period (110 days) is less than 40% of a human’s average gestation period (280 days).

2. Kenya’s Samburu National Park

Lion baby - two lion cubs
Two lion cubs embrace

Theodore Mattas/Shutterstock.com

A group of lions is called a pride, right? Well, normally that’s correct. But there is a single place on Earth where lions hunt alone and lion cubs must become independent at an extremely young age!

In Kenya’s Samburu National Park desert conditions make prey much more sparse. Lions have adapted to the habitat by living solitary lives instead of in large prides. In this environment, lions can’t stay babies for long! Lion cubs in Samuru can bring down small antelopes by the time they’re only three months old!

3. A Famous Pet

Lion baby - cub isolated
Can you believe a U.S. President kept this as a pet?

Vatsyk Elena/Shutterstock.com

Believe it or not, a U.S. President once kept a pet that wasn’t a cat or a dog. Instead, he had two lion cubs!

Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States from 1923 to 1929. While president, the mayor of the South African city of Johannesburg gifted Coolidge a pair of twin lions. Now, you might think a lion name like “Simba” or “Scar” would fit a pet lion, but Coolidge went in the opposite direction.

He named his twin lions “Tax Reduction” and “Budget Bureau.” Let me assure you, Coolidge was not a lot of fun at parties. In addition to twin lions, Coolidge also kept a White House raccoon, a brown bear named Bruno, a wallaby that was moved to the National Zoo, a duiker (small antelope from Africa), and thirteen Pekin ducks.

Let’s just say the White House had different animals 100 years ago!

4.) Lifespan

Lion baby - a lion cub snuggles with a male
A lion cub snuggles up against their father

Ricardo Reitmeyer/Shutterstock.com

If you just want to keep looking at adorable pictures of baby lions, you can skip this fact. But if you continue reading, consider yourself warned!

80% of all lion cubs die before reaching two years of age. At that age, they become skilled enough hunters to become self-sufficient. Why is being a lion cub so tough?

For one, competition for food is tough. Another factor is that when a male lion becomes the alpha of the pride, they will kill lion cubs that are not their own and aged two years or younger. In total, male lions have it the roughest. Only about 1 in 8 (12%) will reach adulthood.

5. Blue Eyes

Lion baby - lion cub with blue eyes
Lion cubs are born with blue eyes, but they turn brown with age

Benjamin Robert Mitchell/Shutterstock.com

Lion babies have a much different appearance than older lions. For one, their eyes at birth are blue, but as they age their eye color will turn to brown.

Also, baby lions have “rosettes” or spots similar to a leopard. However, once the lion reaches adulthood the spots will fade away leaving a more uniform coat. While lion cubs on average weigh just 3 pounds and grow to reach in excess of 250 pounds (females are closer to 280 while males reach beyond 400 pounds), their appearance changes much more than growing.

NEXT UP…

Lion baby - a lion cub

Keith Jenkinson/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am surrounded by nature. When I go for my daily runs I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I am owned by two dogs who take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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