Eating meat and lion around ...

Lions feeding at Flamingo Land

Lions feeding at Flamingo Land

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Have you ever wondered what zoos feed to their lions? Next time you visit Flamingo Land you might see our lions tucking into a whole carcass! Like any lions, the Flamingo Land lions are carnivores and have to be fed on meat. Sometimes they are just given pieces of meat but a couple of times a week they are given one or even two whole carcasses (usually cow calf). This mimics what would happen in the wild – hunting is hard work and although sometimes you’re lucky and catch something big, other days you might only catch something small or even nothing at all. Lion feeds are always announced at the 1pm tiger talk, as it’s the same person who looks after all the big cats.

There are nine lions in the Flamingo Land pride; three males and six females. Kumali, the dominant male, is easily recognised by his mane. His two sons, although fully grown lions, have been neutered to prevent inbreeding and so they will never grow manes. They can still be distinguished from the females by their broader faces and larger size in general, although telling the two of them apart is trickier, unless you see them side by side. Amongst the females, Nyika is the biggest, Mishka is small and nearly always with Kumali and Wednesday has a nick in each ear (from fighting with her sisters). Nyika and Friday (both fe-males) are the two who are most likely to come right up to the windows when visitors are around.

There are two subspecies of lion left in the wild; African lions and the endangered Asiatic lion. The Flamingo Land lions are African. Lions are the only truly social cat, with related females living together in prides. Related or unrelated males form cooperative groups which compete for tenure of a pride. Battles between these males may be fierce or even fatal. A pride would typically consist of 4-6 adults and their young, although the pride will split into smaller groups to go hunting. The females usually do more of the hunting, as they are smaller, faster and more agile than the males. All lions tend to be more active at night. This is also the time when lions are most likely to roar. Their most common prey are zebra, wildebeest and antelope. They will also scavenge from other animals’ kills. Lions actually spend most of their time resting and can be inactive for as much as 20 hours each day.