How Long Do Lions Live And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on December 17th, 2022

Quick Answer:

  • Exact Age Range: 10 to 16 Years
  • In the wild, lions may live for up to 16 years.
  • They live longer in captivity than in the wild.
  • They are vulnerable to natural dangers, illnesses, and food scarcity in the wild.
  • A lion begins to deteriorate in the wild and eventually dies between 10 and 15 years.
  • In captivity, lions can live for up to 20 years.

Lions are huge cats that are native to India and Africa. Panthera is the genus name of these animals. Male lions are often larger than female lions.


They are known as pride when spotted in bunches. Pride often comprises two adult lions, related female lions, and cubs. Coalitions, on the other hand, are groups comprising entirely male lions.

Some of the lions, on the other hand, are nomads. This implies that these lions will only walk with their companion or alone if their partner has perished. Another reason lions travel alone is that they were separated from their pride when they were young.

Lions are mostly found in western India, Southeast Europe, and South Asia. Furthermore, lions are maintained in zoos and sanctuaries.

How Long Do Lions Live?

Species Of LionLifespan
Barbary lion10 to 12 years
Asiatic lion16 to 18 years
Masai lion8 to 10 years
Ethiopian lion12 to 14 years

Lions live for an average of 10 to 16 years. However, depending on various variables, lions’ lifespans can range from fewer than 10 years to more than 16 years.

Lions often do not live extended lives due to various circumstances, such as natural threats, food shortages, illnesses, and other external factors. However, the species is the most important element in determining a lion’s lifetime.

There are several lion species, each with unique traits and lifespans.

The Barbary lion is an extinct lion species that flourished in North Africa. The Barbary lion lived for around 10 to 12 years.

The Asiatic lion has the longest lifetime. Their life expectancy is 16 to 18 years. These lions are one of five pantherine cats that are endemic to India. The other four pantherine cats are the Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, Snow leopard, and clouded leopard.

The Masai lion is a kind of extinct lion found in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Their life expectancy ranges from 8 to 10 years.

The Ethiopian lions discovered in Ethiopian areas belonged to the late Ethiopian Emperor’s collection. Their life expectancy is between 12 and 14 years.

How Long Can Lions Survive in the Wild?

Natural risks, resource scarcity, disease, and pride clashes are why people in the jungle have shorter lives. Male and female lions can live in the wild until they are 10 to 13 years old.

They have a maximum lifetime of 15 to 16 years in the wild. They reach maturity at the age of two and mate all year. The gestation cycle lasts 112 days and produces 2 to 5 cubs on average.

How Long Do Captive Lions Live?

Like many other creatures, they may live a long and healthy life in captivity. Their life expectancy is great, and they spend longer in captivity due to adequate care and feeding.

When it comes to caged lions, they may live for up to 20 years. Simultaneously, numerous records mention a maximum age of 29 years.

Thousands of lions may be found in zoos all around the world. They reproduce successfully in zoos under perfect conditions.

How Long Do Zoo Lions Live?

Every zoo has at least two huge cats in its enclosure. Almost everywhere, there is at least one male and one lady. It’s also possible to find a pair of ladies in captivity.

They may survive for up to 25 years in the zoo. The animal is given the greatest medical care and is kept safe from predators, resulting in an extremely long lifetime. A wild lion, unlike in captivity, has a lifespan of just 16 years.

How Long Can Lions Go Without Eating?

Lions can spend up to 14 days without eating. They can live considerably longer if strong and well-protected from jungle predators and other pride. A muscular lion may sometimes go up to 30 days without eating.

Male Lions Live How Long?

Males live shorter lifetimes than females. A male may live up to 12 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. When they reach maturity, most males relinquish their natural pride or are compelled to leave the region.

In such a setting, just a few lions establish and control a new region while many others perish. A dominating male gets overthrown when he becomes weak.

The bulk of them does not live long and die. Older men are frequently stripped of their pride because they can no longer do the right thing. Males in captivity can live for 25 to 26 years.

Female Lions Live How Long?

Females outlive males in terms of lifespan. Females do not battle to establish control within a territory, which may explain why they live such long lives in the forest.

When a female reaches adulthood, she is not obliged to abandon her natal pride. When a man attacks pride, he battles and destroys men. Females can live in the wild for up to 15 or 16 years. In captivity, they have a maximum lifetime of 25 to 30 years.

Why Do Lions Live Such Long Lives?

In general, lions in captivity, such as in zoological parks and sanctuaries, live longer than in the wild. The explanation is that lions in captivity have access to all necessary living circumstances.

They don’t have to hunt other animals or seek food to survive.

Lions in the wild, on the other hand, struggle to live extended lives because of a lack of food, poor environmental circumstances, fear of hunters, and other issues. Lions in captivity can live for up to 20 years.

Although lions are apex predators, they are at the very top of the food chain. They still battle to survive, though, because numerous hunters shoot lions for their skin and other body parts. That is one of the primary reasons why lions are becoming extinct.

Aside from that, female lions are known to live longer than male lions. However, no such hypotheses or empirical evidence exist to explain why female lions outlive male lions.

However, the possibilities might be due to the intricate interplay between local environmental circumstances and sex-specific reproductive costs.

To put it another way, male lions compete with other male lions to take over and head the pride. On the other hand, female lions are rarely involved in such fights. As a result, female lions live 5 to 10 years longer than male lions.

Longest life expectancy

The data on the longest-living lion or lioness is a bit hazy, implying that a lion lived in captivity for 29 years. However, the two creatures below appear to be the oldest recorded lion or lioness because of their care while in captivity.

Arjun: The World’s Oldest Lion

While most lions only live to be roughly 20 years old with proper care, Arjun is the oldest in recorded history. He was a resident of India’s Animal Rescue Center. Because he was reared in captivity, he never spent a single day in the wild.

There are several versions of how old he was when he died, with most claiming he was between 26 and 29 years old when he died on May 17th, 2018. Multiple organ failures caused his death, most likely caused by his advanced age.

Zenda: The World’s Second Oldest Lion

Zenda comes in second, having lived in captivity for 25 years before dying. She was the African lion at the Philadelphia Zoo in the United States. This is far longer than other African lions’ normal lifetime, roughly 10-14 years in the wild and about 20 years in captivity.

She was born in South Africa’s Johannesburg Zoo and lived there until 1993. She arrived in Philadelphia with two other lionesses and a male lion from the same pride.

Zenda was transported to the Columbus Zoo briefly between 2004 and 2006 but swiftly returned to her home at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Zenda died in captivity on December 29th, 2016, in the Philadelphia Zoo. Kay Buffamonte, her lifelong caregiver for the last 24 years, described Zenda as the tranquil peacemaker of her pride.

She was in good health at the time, eating 10 pounds of steak on the Monday before her death. She was eventually killed after being in pain for more than 24 hours. Her unexpected loss of appetite was the sole indication of her health problems.

The Oldest Lion Who Ever Lived in the Wild, Ram

Though tracking every known lion in the wild is impossible, a lion named Ram appears to be the oldest to survive in the wild, dying at the age of 16 years. He lived in the Gir sanctuary’s tourist zone, where he had lived since 2009.

Though most lions do not keep their territory for more than three years in the wild, Ram and his sibling Shyam kept theirs for over seven years.

The death of Ram prompted guards to be fearful that the cubs under their care might be attacked by other male lions seeking to control the territory. Ram died in India in November 2015.

Why Do Zoo Lions Live Longer?

For various reasons, a lion will live longer at a zoo than in the wild.

Predators do not exist

One of the main reasons lions live longer in zoos is that they don’t have to worry about predators. While humans are the most dangerous predators for lions, cheetahs and hyenas will also try to take their food.

They have access to medical treatment

When a lion roams the wild, it cannot access medical treatment. They will suffer if they receive a wound or have their paw broken. If something occurs to a lion at a zoo, it will receive prompt medical attention.

Veterinarians may also keep an eye on a lion, give it any drugs it needs, and make dietary modifications to keep it healthy. They will also conduct monthly checkups on lions to avoid spreading sickness or chronic illness.

They are not required to deal with environmental issues

Lions in the wild rely entirely on nature for food and health. They will not have access to water or food if there is a drought.

Because their living habitat is constant, captive lions are not subjected to environmental pressures. A zookeeper will ensure they have enough food and drink for the day.

They are more capable of reproducing

Zoos can also help lions reproduce more successfully, resulting in more cubs. Most zoos will urge a lion and lioness to mate and intervene if anything goes wrong.

Zoos assist in keeping lion populations growing since they are an endangered species. They may also look after the cubs and ensure they grow healthy and happy. These cubs will be safe from larger male lions, giving them a higher chance of survival.


Lions are not only creatures, but they also have economic and religious significance. They are acknowledged and regarded as an emblem of human culture. Furthermore, lions may be seen on Indian sculptures, religious writings, paintings, and national flags.

Lions spend most of their time napping and are seen to be inactive for around 20 hours every day. They typically hunt in the early morning hours. On average, they spend around two hours daily hunting and walking and about 15 minutes eating.


Editorial Staff

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