Absolute Predator

 

Lion Cub Mother

Lion Cubs  

 

Despite what popular movies with lion cubs will tell you, cubs don’t have charmed lives. Most of us probably do not know that in real prides, lion cubs and cubs that grow into adulthood face difficult challenges. What is life like for the lion cubs in a pride? 

 

Lion Cubs and Dependence 

 

Like humans and many other animals, lion cubs are initially born helpless. Although they have the ability to crawl the day after they are born, they remain blind for a week. That means they have to rely much on their mothers for food and protection. Even after this sensitive period though, the lion cubs may remain close and dependent on their mothers for about two more months.  

 

Mothers of cubs however are not solely responsible for their young. Since they live in a pride with other females that are biologically related to them, lactating lionesses allow lion cubs of other lionesses to suckle. Apparently, this pride behavior is more than a gesture of goodwill. The ready access to milk sources promotes better cub survival and growth. In a way, this is a survival mechanism.  

 

Lion Cubs Learning to Live Independently 

 

Even when lion cubs pass the mark of total dependence, they tend to stick close to their mothers. This is only natural. When they are introduced to the rest of the pride after two months, they may feel awkward and uncomfortable especially around the adult male of the pride. During this time, they also retain much of their carefree playfulness.  

 

It is only when the lion cubs reach six months or so that more is expected of them. This is their weaning period where they also learn not to rely too much on their mothers. Females in particular learn to hunt like the other adult female lions. By the time they reach two years old, they are expected to have mastered the finer points of hunting and killing prey. 

 

Male lion cubs have more difficult lives than females. While females are expected to become huntresses, males are expected to leave their pride of origin. Only one alpha male must remain with the pride. Other adult males must search for their own pride.  

 

 

Lion Cub Male

 

Lion Cubs Facing the Challenges of Maturity 

 

Searching for a pride however is not as easy as it seems. Male lion cubs that have grown into full adults can’t just walk up to an existing pride and request for admission. Since most existing prides already have their alpha lions, a lion that does not have its own pride must challenge the current alpha male for the right to become the new alpha male. A challenger that succeeds in killing or defeating the current male can takeover the pride and get rid of the male lion cubs in it to eliminate future competition.  

 

Whether a lion is physically strong or not, finding an alpha lion to challenge is a requirement. Lions typically cannot live on their own because they are constantly in danger of being attacked by other animals like hyenas.  

 

By all appearances, the lives and paths of all lion cubs are already predetermined. The way of life of lions leaves cubs with little choice. That makes their lives truly tough.  

 

 

  

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