National Geographic News

African Lion

Photograph by Chris Johns

Male lions are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to fathering. Notorious loungers, they'll lie in the shade, often ignoring their cubs, while the females risk life and limb on the hunt. When a kill is made, they show up and insist on being first to eat, sometimes leaving only scraps for the rest of the pride. It's not until his family is threatened that the male's fatherly instincts kick in. Often charged with the welfare of a dozen lionesses and 20 or more cubs, a male lion will summon all his celebrated ferocity to protect his pride.

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