Can You Have a Pet Lion? (4 Reasons Why it's a Bad Idea)

Can I own a lion as a pet?

Tigers and lions are surprisingly easy and inexpensive to purchase as pets. While import and interstate trade are prohibited, they are available in many states from captive breeders. This means it is possible to own a large and powerful carnivore whether or not you are equipped to properly care for them.

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Summing up

Owning a lion as a pet may seem like an exciting venture. However, it is costly to get the necessary licensing in order to keep one in a domestic setting. Additionally, the costs of having and maintaining a pet lion are extremely high. A lion living in a domestic environment could compromise the health and safety of humans and other animals in the vicinity.

That being said, some parts of the world allow for the private ownership of lions as pets. This, however, does not change the fact that a lion is still a wild animal, and as such, can be very unpredictable and dangerous. Lions belong to the wilderness among other animals and their own species.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have learned something new about these majestic big cats.

If you liked this post, here’s are a recommendation of a similar article: Are Lions Loyal?

How long can a lion go without eating before it dies?

Lions are known to go without eating for around a week, however they can go up to a month without eating,as long as they have source of water available. Generally lions will hunt every 2-3 days,however only about 30% of their hunts are successful, How long they can go without eating depends on how successful they are.

Why Lions Should Not Be Pets?

Raising lions in captivity, or smuggling them from Africa or Asia is illegal in most parts of the world, like Europe and America. Keeping lions as pets is also banned in 21 states in the U.S. and even the United Arab Emirates have outlawed the keeping of lions as pets, despite the fact that owning a cheetah or a big cat was a status symbol.

While some still try to keep lions as pets or keep the trade of big cats alive, the organizations that try to protect these animals fight to penalize and make such practices illegal and inform people of how unethical it is. Cases of cruelty against wild animals have created massive reactions and petitions for the enforcement of animal rights to which the court in Pakistan perfectly stated, “the practice of capturing animals and keeping them in captivity is a relic of the past. It is a deplorable reflection of the treatment of living beings at the hands of another living species i.e humans.”

I’m sure at this point it’s clear that lions can also be a danger to people, even if they are tamed, but keeping these wild animals captive is a far bigger crime. Just imagine the needs of lions! Lions are the only social cat, and they live in groups to survive and each group occupies a territory that according to research “may include an area of 100 square miles (259 square kilometers) of shrubs, grasslands, and woodlands.”

Lions that are kept for the purpose of entertainment or status are never going to enjoy such space and freedom, instead, they’re kept in cages. They’re usually fed by their owners or the zookeepers which also takes away their instinctive need to hunt for their prey. At least with our kitties, we can reenact a hunting experience with toys, but lions are large animals, and reenacting a hunting experience with them would most likely end up badly for us.

Why Do Tamed Lions Attack?

It might not come to you as a surprise that lions are capable of attacking people, even if they are professional animal trainers, but for those of you who believe that lions can truly be tamed then, such incidents might shock you. Most lion trainers, support the idea that lions can’t truly be tamed, and unfortunately, these attacks confirm the wild nature and unpredictability of exotic cats.

For instance, only recently, in 2020 a 35-year-old woman was attacked by a lion at Shoalhaven Zoo in Australia. In 2021 a pet lion attacked a child in Gulberg, Karachi which not only was taken on a video but also went viral on social media. Some might claim that both instances were done by lions that weren’t supervised by a professional tamer or they weren’t tamed in the first place, but even professionals that have worked their whole life with lions have been attacked, as it happened in Ukraine where a lion suddenly attacked his circus trainer.

According to the trainer, this incident would not have occurred if the animals were given some time to adjust to their territory after they arrived, instead the lions were stressed and lashed out. These sad attacks might paint lions as scary animals, but I think it simply shows how unhappy they are, stressed and angry even to live in unnatural conditions, away from the security of a suitable habitat. 

Do Lions Make Good Pet?

So. you want a big cat as a pet? Perhaps a sweet little lion cub that you can cuddle with. There’s nothing that will love you like a lion cub. Or maybe a tame cougar who can stay in your house and sleep on the bed with you. Before you run out and get a lion for pet, there is some important information you should not only know but fully accept.

The first set rule is that “big cat” and “pet” do not belong in the same sentence. Big cats cannot be “tamed” in the common sense of the word. They are, and always will be creatures of the wild.

A lion is not a house cat. It does not stay small forever. In fact, lions and tigers soon begin growing at a rate of five pounds per week. When you finally figure out that you can’t keep it, it is practically impossible to find a home for it other than a cemetery.

So you should first become aware of what private ownership of a pet lion is like. Talk to some people who have big cats. Learn the lengths you must go just to get the proper diet for your cat.

Do you have experience in handling big cats? If not, you shouldn’t even consider ownership. Do you have children? If so, leave this page now. Too many children have been permanently disfigured or killed by their parents’ big cats. Both the children and cats pay for their parents and owners’ stupidity.

This page looks at some of the facts and fantasies of big cat ownership and tells you some of the preparations you should make before obtaining a lion pet.

Lion Anatomy and Appearance

Lions have a short coat of tawny or golden fur with a long tail that has a tuft of longer fur at the end. The markings on their coats are much fainter than the bold stripes and spots displayed on other felines which helps these large carnivores in going unseen when stalking prey in the long grasses. Lions have strong and powerful jaws that contain 30 teeth in total which includes four fang-like canines and four carnassial teeth that are perfectly designed for slicing through flesh.

Lion Mane 

The lion is one of the largest cats in the world with males being taller and heavier than females and displaying a mane of long hair around their faces (in fact, it is the only case in the feline world where males and females actually look different). Thought to be connected with testosterone levels, the mane of the male lion ranges from blonde to red, brown, and black in color and covers their head, neck, and chest.

White Lions 

Several big cat species have been observed in the wild with color mutations, such as the white tiger or black panther. Likewise, there is an uncommon color mutation of lions that leaves their coat extremely pale.

Unlike white tigers which are albino – that is, lacking in color pigments in their coat – the coat of white lions is caused by recessive traits. The uncommon nature of white lions led to them being captured and moved into captivity in the second half of the 20th century.

Today, white lions are bred across many zoos and wildlife parks. For example, in North America, six white lions are located at Parc Safari near Montreal, Quebec as of 2020. However, they’re now being reintroduced back into environments in South Africa and are successfully breeding and hunting in their native environments.

Why are White Lions White

The exotic pet white lions are white because of a yet to be identified recessive gene that’s dictating the color of their coat, contrary to popular belief that they are albino. However they differ in terms of genetic makeup from their tawny cousins, they’re not classified as a subspecies of the Panthera leo making them just ordinary lions.

Can Lions be Friendly?

Can lions be friendly with humans? The thing is that although the lion may be amiable and reliable 90% of the time, he also might get into a snit for some reason and strikeout. And, if he suddenly loses his temper, he can, of course, do terrible damage in seconds.

Or, because of his great strength, the pet lion might hurt someone without ever even intending it or may just for playing because of the power that he has in his body.

lion pet
lion pet

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FAQ

Can Lions Be Tamed? Lions can act amicable and appear to be tame with proper care, but they are still highly unpredictable. This exoctic animal will lash out if they feel anger, impending danger, or see a potential threat.  Can Lions Bond with Humans?  Lions do have the capability to bond with human handlers, but that does not mean they will not strike if they feel threatened at some time.  Are Pet Lions Dangerous?  Lions fall under the classification of a dangerous animal. Even when you raise a cub from a young age as a domestic pet, it still has natural instinctive behaviors that could pose dangerous problems later.  Will a Pet Lion Protect Me?  A lion will attack any potential threat it sees, including people if the situation arises. While it may seem they are protecting you, their natural instincts are to fight off any dangers.

Is It Legal to Own a Lion? 

There are no federal regulations on lions in the U

There are no federal regulations on lions in the United States, but rather, each state has its own allowances and restrictions. 

Some areas of the United States have no preset regulations, while others allow it with or without permits, and yet, there are locations where owning a pet lion is illegal. 

The Captive Wildlife Safety Act outlines covers all necessary information regarding lions, including: 

  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Importing and Exporting
  • Purchasing and Selling 
  • Breeding 

Let’s take a look at where the distinction lies within the United States.

  • 35 states prohibit keeping big cats as pets but do have exceptions with various requirements and enforcement laws 
  • 21 states ban all exotic pets classified as dangerous while allowing certain species or require valid permits 
  • 6 states do not regulate the possession of keeping big cats as pets 
  • 4 states have no legislation at all regarding big cats for domestic purposes 

For residents in the United States, where big cats, like lions, are permitted, you may also wonder if the cost and work will be worth it in the end. 

Can Lions Be Domesticated?

In general, lions cannot be entirely domesticated. Keeping a wild animal in a secure enclosure does not mean that the animal has been domesticated. Taming a lion does not translate into domestication either. It is important to learn what domestication means in order to understand why a lion cannot be domesticated.

To fully and truly domesticate a species would require a modification of its DNA through a process of selective breeding. This process would also modify its behavior over time. It could take several generations for domestication to take. A domesticated animal lives near and regularly interact with humans.

For a lion, this means that humans have full control of its behavior. It means that the lion will act as peaceably and amicably as a dog, a cow, pig, duck, or rabbit would with humans. It also means that in living together, the well-being of both humans and the lion are not compromised in any way.

The reason that a lion cannot be domesticated is that its instinct cannot be modified easily. Even if the lion may be used to trust its trainer or owner, it may also attack if feeling threatened. The docile behavior displayed toward its owner may not apply to all persons.

In the past, taming lions involved extreme techniques such as starvation, abuse, or fear. Today’s lion tamers will largely use repetition, encouragement, and trust to train lions and other big cats. Lion taming, however, does not rule out instances of unpredictability when it falls back to its natural instinct.

Lion Diet and Prey

The Lion is a large and carnivorous animal that survives only by eating other animals in order to sustain itself. Lions eat a diet that consists of buffalo, wildebeests, and even giraffes. Depending on the abundance and variety of prey species within their territory, Lions primarily catch gazelle, zebra, and warthog along with a number of antelope species by following the herds across the open grasslands. They will not turn their noses up though at hunting alone should the situation arise and will happily steal the kill of another animal. Once the animal has been caught though, circumstances change as the females will allow the male Lion to eat first before indulging themselves. The cubs however are at the bottom of the pile and have to be content with what remains once the adults have finished.

Unlike other felines, lions are not solitary hunters but instead, the lionesses work together in order to chase down and catch their prey with each female having a different strategic role. This strategy allows them to kill animals that are both faster and much larger than they are. A study of 1,300 lion hunts found that when hunting individually, their success rate on hunts was 17-19%. However, when hunting in groups, success rates jumped to 30%.

On average, lions eat about 17 to 20 lbs (8 to 9 kg) of meat per day. Males can about 100 pounds in a day (43 kg), while females can eat 55 pounds (25 kg).

For a complete analysis of the diet of lions, make sure to read ‘What Do Lions Eat? 15 Foods They Hunt.

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