Watch This Mama Lioness Play with Her Rambunctious Cub

Michael Zeitner/

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: October 19, 2023

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For the lion cub in this video, the Amakhala Game Reserve in South Africa is just a massive playground. What’s more, its mom is its best playmate.

In this heart-warming footage, we see the mom lioness cope with the boisterous play and display amazing patience.

There’s some rolling on backs, play fighting, and patting with paws. This looks like a peaceful spot for the pride to hang out with their cubs.

Watch This Up Close Video of a Lioness and Her Cub in Play!

Five Surprising Facts About Lionessess and Their Cubs

Lionesses and their cubs share a special bond that is essential for the survival of the pride. While many people are familiar with the image of a lioness fiercely protecting her young, there is much more to this relationship than meets the eye. In fact, there are many surprising facts about lionesses and their cubs that highlight the complexity and importance of this dynamic.

Lion baby - two lion cubs

Lionesses are the primary caregivers for their cubs, but male lions play an important role in their upbringing as well.

Here are five surprising facts about lionesses and their cubs:

  1. Lionesses are the primary caregivers for their cubs, but male lions play an important role in their upbringing as well. Male lions may help to protect the cubs and may even assist with hunting and other tasks.
  2. Lionesses are able to synchronize their reproductive cycles, which means that the cubs in a litter are often born around the same time. This helps to increase their chances of survival, as the lionesses can work together to protect and care for the cubs.
  3. Lionesses are known for their incredible strength and agility, but they also have a softer side when it comes to their cubs. They are often seen grooming and cuddling with their young, showing affection and nurturing them.
  4. Lionesses are able to recognize their own cubs by their scent and vocalizations. This allows them to quickly locate and protect their offspring in the often chaotic environment of pride.
  5. When lionesses in a pride give birth around the same time, they may form a “creche” where they care for each other’s cubs. This alloparenting behavior ensures that all of the cubs receive the care and attention they need to survive and thrive.

In conclusion, lionesses and their cubs have a fascinating and complex rel

Lions in Africa

Lions are apex predators found in South Africa and Asia where they like to live in open woodland, scrub, and grassland. They are large, strong, and powerful members of the feline family and the largest cats on the continent of Africa.

Lions are social animals and like to live in family groups called pride, and as we see here, the majority of lions in pride are females.

You can tell them apart from the males because they do not have thick, darker manes around their faces. A pride generally consists of between five and 15 females, their cubs, and one male. The male patrols his territory warning off other males. Overall, the number of lions on the planet has reduced and there are now only around 20,000 lions left in the world.

These magnificent creatures have short coats that are tawny or golden in color. Their coat is understated, and they do not have the bold patterns that some other big cats, such as the tiger or leopard, have. Their tail is long and has the characteristic tuft of fur at the end. 

Female Lion Lifespan

Lion Displays Teeth

Female lions play an important role in their pride and contribute to the overall success and survival of their species.

The lifespan of female lions, like all animals, is influenced by a variety of factors such as habitat, access to resources, and disease. However, on average, female lions have a lifespan of around 14 years in the wild.

During their lifetime, female lions go through various stages of life. As cubs, they are cared for and protected by their mothers and the other females in pride. When they reach sexual maturity at around 3-4 years of age, they begin to play a vital role in the pride as hunters and caregivers. They may mate with multiple males in the pride, which helps to ensure genetic diversity among their offspring.

As female lions age, their role within the pride may shift. Older females may become less involved in hunting and more focused on caring for their cubs and supporting their pride. However, even in old age, female lions are still an important part of the pride’s social structure.

Do Female Lions Have a Strong Motherly Instinct?

Lionesses and cubs

Female lions, also known as lionesses, are well known for their strong motherly instinct and their role as caregivers and protectors of their cubs.

Female lions, also known as lionesses, are well known for their strong motherly instinct and their role as caregivers and protectors of their cubs.

Lionesses invest a great deal of time and energy into raising their young. They give birth to litters of 1-6 cubs and are responsible for nursing, grooming, and protecting them from predators. Lionesses are fiercely protective of their cubs and will defend them against any potential threats, even if it means putting themselves in harm’s way.

As the cubs grow and become more independent, the lionesses continue to play an important role in their lives. They teach their cubs how to hunt, how to interact with other members of the pride, and how to survive in their environment.

Interestingly, lionesses also demonstrate a strong sense of altruism towards their fellow pride members. For example, when a lioness is unable to care for her own cubs, she may nurse the cubs of other lionesses in the pride, a behavior known as alloparenting.

Lions as Hunters and Moms

Lions are apex predators and carnivores.  A combination of strong, powerful jaws, pointed canines and sharp carnassial teeth mean that they can slice through the flesh of animals that they have caught. It is the lionesses that hunt the prey and they do this in groups. This allows them to tackle larger and faster prey than an individual lion could tackle on its own.

Lions become sexually mature at the age of two or three but will often delay breeding until the pride is firmly established. After mating, females gestate for almost four months and give birth to between one and six cubs. Lion cubs are very vulnerable; less than 50 percent will survive for a year and just one out of five will still be alive at the age of two years.

Most are lost to starvation or attacks by other animals. Many lionesses in the same pride will give birth around the same time and will suckle each other’s cubs. The young will start to eat meat at around three months but continue to nurse until they are around six months old. They learn to hunt once they are a year old and as we see here, they practice their moves on their mom first!

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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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