Asian lion

Scientific Name: Panthera leo spp. persica
Irish Name: Leon Áiseach

One of the most notable physical characteristics of the Asian lion is the longitudinal fold of skin that runs along their belly. (This is absent in the African lion).

Asian lion

One of the most notable physical characteristics of the Asian lion is the longitudinal fold of skin that runs along their belly. (This is absent in the African lion).

General Information

Their coat colour ranges from  ruddy tawny, heavily speckled with black, to sandy or buff-grey. Their mane is short and darker than that of the African lion. making their ears more visible. The tassel on the end of their tail is longer than that on the African lion. Like all cats they have powerful retractable claws and long sharp canine teeth.

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

Today Asian lions live in the wild in the Gir forest National Park and Sanctuary in the state of Gujarat in India. The park was set up in 1965 to protect the lions.

How long do they live?

They live between 16-18 years in the wild and up to 24 years in captivity.

What do they eat?

"The Asian lion is a CARNIVORE, eating antelop, wild boar, buffalo and small deer. They are ambush predators using stealth to approach their prey. Then they charge, reaching a top speed of 56 kph, and either grab or knock down thier prey before it outruns them. Hunting takes place at night. However, where the vegetation is thick offering good cover, it can occur during the day."

Group Name

They are highly social animals and live in a group called a PRIDE. The pride is a family unit where all of the lionesses are related.

Zoo location

The Asian lions can be seen in the Asian Forest Habitat in Dublin Zoo. The Asian Forest Habitat was opened in the spring of 2012.

Closest Related Species / Sister Species

The Asian lion and the African lion are subspecies of the same species.

Animal Class


Animal Order


Fun facts

Good Sleepers

They spend up to 20 hours a day resting or sleeping.


The male lion is the only cat to sport a mane. It is an indication of their maturity and dominance.


The lion's roar can be heard from as far away as 5 miles.


Family Life

Asian lions are highly social and live in a family group called a pride. The pride consists of closely related females. The adult male is more solitary and mixes with the pride for mating and feeding after a hunt. Mating is not seasonal and can take place all year round. They are polygynous - a male can mate with more
than one female.

Baby Name

The young lion is known as a CUB.

Gestation period

The gestation period last from 100-119 days

Number of young at birth

Between 1-6 cubs are born.

Weight at birth

In 2014. an Asian Lion cub born in Dublin Zoo weighed 6.6kg at 2 months old; In 2015 another cub born in Dublin Zoo weighed an estimated 5kg at 10 weeks old; In 2019 4 Asian Lion cubs born in Fota Wildlife park weighed 7.5 kg at 2 months old.

Age at maturity

Asian lions reach maturity between ages 3-4 years. Males reach sexual maturity at age 5 years and females at age 4 years.

Adult male name

The adult male is called a Lion.

Adult female name

The adult female is called a Lioness

Size male adult

The adult male weighs between 150-250 kg

Size female adult

The adut female weighs between 120-182 kg



IUCN status

The Asian lion is listed as ENDANGERED.

Current population estimate

Estimates put the number of Asian Lions living in the wild at between 500-600.


Today the lions living in the wild are vulnerable to disease, natural disasters, forest fires, potential poaching, tourism and conflicts that may arise from living close to a growing human population that also needs the land for cattle and crops.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin Zoo is part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). This is a breeding programme for endangered species including the Asian Lion



  • How many asiatic lions are left in the wild?

    The wild population is estimated to be between 500-600 individuals.

  • Is the asiatic lion endangered?

    Yes! The Asian lion has been classified by IUNC as endnagered.

  • Which wildlife sanctuary is the habitat of asiatic lions?

    The Gir Forest National Park and Sanctuary in Gujarat, India.

  • What is being done to save the asiatic lion?

    The Asian lion is listed as ENDANGERED by the IUCN; included on CITES Appendix 1; fully protected by law in India; management interventions are in place in the Gir National Park and Forest e.g. reduction in livestock grazing, control of fire and education programmes.

  • Where is the asiatic lion found?

    The Asiatic lion can be seen in the wild in the Gir National Forest and Wildlife Sanctuary, Gujarat, India. But they can also be seen in Zoos around the world including Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park in Cork.

  • Why are asiatic lions hunted?

    The Asian lion population has increased to the point that some (maybe as much as 1/3rd) now live outside the protected areas in surrounding farmland and hills. This has brought them into conflict with humans living in these areas. Some of the local residents kill the lions in ‘retaliation’ for attacks on livestock and out of fear of attack on humans.