The Suitcase Lady


March 3, 2020, 9:07 pm

The saying, “March comes in like a lion but goes out like a lamb” does not ring true in my state of Wisconsin. Having lived here a lifetime, I know the first part is correct. However, March most often ends roaring out like a lion as well.  The few lambs that might be about would be camouflaged by the snowbanks. So March is the perfect time to talk about lions, Panthera leo, the namesake of our blustery weather.

Even though lions are called “The King of the Beasts”, they are not the largest of the big cats. Tigers get that honor. The heaviest recorded lion was 826 pounds. Average weights are 400 pounds for males and 290 pounds for lionesses.

Lions live on plains and grasslands in southern and Eastern Africa, with Tanzania having the largest lion population. All lions are threatened by habitat loss and their numbers are decreasing. Their conservation status is listed as vulnerable.

Lions differ significantly from other cats in four ways: they live in groups, have no spots or stripes, have tasseled tails and are dimorphic. Dimorphism means “two forms”. Lions are sexually dimorphic as the male and female differ noticeably in appearance. Hence, even a kindergartener can tell which lion is dad.

The darker a lion’s mane, the older he is. Lionesses prefer guys with the darker, longer manes.

A pride of lions consists mostly of females, offspring and a few males. The males defend the group and the females do 90% of the hunting, although the males always eat first. The women’s rights movement has not yet reached lion land.

Only the big cats can roar, and the lion’s roar is mighty. It can be heard from five miles away.

Don’t race a lion. They can reach speeds of fifty miles per hour for a short while. Don’t try to out-leap them, either. A lion can leap thirty-six feet.

Lions eat an average of about 18 pounds of meat a day. That’s the equivalent of a person eating seventy hamburgers at a sitting.

The lion’s bite is thirty times stronger than that of a house-cat. However, the jaguar’s bite is much stronger.

And, finally, in true cat fashion, lions are sleepyheads. As many as twenty-two hours a day are spent slumbering. So if you are inclined to take a nap, don’t feel guilty. Just think, “I’m resting up for the hunt.”

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