Onlookers at the Xi’An Zoo in China got to see these two big cats do battle. And it was all captured on video!
The video begins with the lion initiating the confrontation with the tiger. He growls and swats at the tiger, who backs up in response to the attack. The tiger is not about to submit, however, and swats back to defend himself.
Both animals have their mouths open, displaying sharp rows of teeth. They don’t bite at each other, however, and keep the fight confined to their bodies and paws.
The lion eventually saunters away but returns as the tiger walks in the vicinity of the female lions again.
The lion is heavier and more muscular than the tiger but not by much. The zoo mentions that as cubs, the tiger was actually heavier and bigger. This is due to the faster maturation rate of tigers compared to lions. Now, however, the lion might have a slight size advantage. His back legs are deformed, however, which impacts his ability to use all of his mighty power.
The two animals pace back and forth, clearly keeping a close eye on each other. They engage in a few exchanged swats and growls as they both fight for dominance. The female lions watch the show. As the fight ebbs and flows over the day, other big cats in the enclosure come to see what the two males are doing. None of them intervene and let the male lion and male tiger engage in this natural ritual to see who is the dominant male.
Eventually, the tiger lays down in the grass, showing that the male lion has triumphed. The male lion is still quick to swat at him or any other animals that come too close or show any interest in the female lions.
The two lions were actually raised as cubs together at the zoo. While they would normally not be aggressive toward each other, the female lions nearby were in heat and the male lion was attempting to show his dominance. This is natural lion behavior and the zookeepers wisely let wild animals act just as they would in the wild.