Lion Nearly Drowns Trying to Hunt a Determined Zebra

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: November 18, 2023

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Female lion jumping over water
© Foto Mous/

Lions take a considerable risk when they hunt fully-grown zebras on land. In the water, those risks are multiplied. This extraordinary clip shows a lion struggling in a deep river with a zebra who is determined to stay alive. Both of the animals disappear under the water at times. It looks as if both of them may perish! However, the lion decides to abandon the hunt and get to the safety of the land instead. The zebra continues to flail around in the water for a while but also makes its way safely to the river bank.

Is This How Lions Normally Hunt?

Lions are terrestrial creatures and usually hunt on land. You can see that another lion is watching the action from the safety of the grass. It is usual for lions to hunt in pairs or as a group. This gives them a greater chance of success against larger animals. For herd animals like zebras, there is safety in numbers. The first challenge for the lions is to separate one individual from the rest of the herd. These lions must have managed to do this, as it looks like no other zebras are nearby. However, that is just the first step!

Next, the lion has to overcome the zebra, which is not easy. These herbivores can inflict nasty wounds with their powerful kicks and bites. This zebra may have intentionally gone into the water, thinking the lion would not follow it. Lions are not known to be frequent swimmers. However, they are willing to enter the water when they have to.

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What Do Lions Normally Eat?

Lioness with warthog piglet as prey

Lions supplement more significant kills with smaller prey.

©Wim Hoek/

Lions are willing to eat a wide range of prey but often become experts at catching just a few species. They become reliant on between two and three critical species within an ecosystem, and zebras are often one of those species! Other animals on a lion’s menu include warthogs, wildebeest, impala, and buffalo. More significant kills are supplemented with smaller animals, including birds, reptiles such as tortoises, and insects. Many lions are also willing to catch and eat fish if they can. Lions living near human settlements have also been seen stealing livestock, including cattle and goats.

When not catching their food, lions steal kills from other predators. Adult male lions are most likely to show this behavior and may steal more than half of their food from other animals, such as cheetahs and leopards.

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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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