Why do lions kill their cubs?

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Why do lions kill their cubs?

There may be several reasons why lions kill their cubs. Just like it is often seen that intruder male lions can kill the cubs of the defeated father lion after the intruder male wins over the pride and the lionesses by defeating the father lion.

It has been very well reported in the wild that male lions have no interest at all in raising another lion’s offspring. So, they do prefer killing them or taking them out of the pride.

It has also been seen in the wild that the virgin male lions or other nomadic male lions may often try to kill the cubs of other female lionesses if the cubs are not well secured by their father lion or mother lioness.

Single male lions always try to obtain a pride of their own. And for doing so, they will always try to fight with the male lions of a pride and drive out those lions and take their dominance over the females of that pride. Once they succeed in doing so, the next and immediate focus is to reproduce.

So, for mating and reproduction with the females, it’s a must for them to kill their newly born cubs because female lions can come to heat when they have no cubs to rare. That’s why it is often seen that the new male will try to kill the cubs so that the females can opt to mate with the new male.

It has been also seen that the male lions can also kill the cubs that are not closely related to them; such as say the offspring of their brothers or cousins.

Do lions actually care for their cubs?

Yes, lions do care for their cubs. When the lionesses go for the hunt, lions sincerely and aggressively secure the cubs of the pride.

Lionesses will also take care of their cubs until they reach the age of two or three. Lions aggressively protects the cubs and the territory, while the lionesses will perfectly nourish the cubs.

Lions and lionesses actually care for their cubs and can go for a bloodbath battle with the intruding males who tries to capture the pride, territory, or goes for killing the cubs.

Lionesses cares for her cub as it is well seen in the wild that she gives birth to her cubs away from the pride.

Since the lion cubs are born completely helpless so proper care needs to be taken to safeguard them from intruders and attackers, and so their mother keeps them hidden from all animals, including her own pride.

When the cubs are about eight weeks old, she finally introduces them to her pride. That’s how much they take care of them starting from birth.

All lionesses in the pride take care of each other’s cubs at the same time. They care for, protect, and feed each other’s young very well.

Some are often seen breastfeeding each other cubs. In the wild, it has been well reported that all the lactating females in a pride suckle cubs showing no favoritism for their own offspring.

It’s not only all about caring. The responsibility of the mother also lies in training them to learn all about hunting and surviving. And male lions will always try and give their best to protect the lion cubs from danger.


Why do male lions not like cubs?

There may be several reasons why male lions don’t like cubs. A father lion will always try to defend his cubs, while in the other case an intruder male lion will always hate the cubs of another pride and will be always ready to kill those cubs if the cubs are not well secured.

The most probable reason as reported by Zoologists and Wildlife Researchers is that the male lions don’t like cubs that are not theirs and kill the cubs to bring the females back into estrus so that they can mate.

Also, intruder male lions after taking over a new pride are seen to hate the cubs of that pride as they cannot sit around with patience without having sex with the lioness. Intruder males won’t wait for a very long time until the cubs are grown when they take over a new pride.

And so, it is often seen in the wilderness that the new dominant and intruder male will always opt to kill the cubs that are not theirs after taking over the pride and start a new generation that is theirs genetically.

Females are clever and they act wisely when they see that a new intruder male has taken over the pride. So, they opt to better mate with the new males, and bring their cubs out later making the male think that these are his cubs. This saves the cubs from getting killed.

If you see this from the genetic point of view then you will learn that the new male almost always kills the new pride cubs after taking over the pride, if the cubs are not well secured. This selection selectively removes the biologically unrelated cubs ensuring that the other lions’ genes are not passed on. This ensures the continuation of the lineage with proper chances of surviving in the long-run.


Does the lioness grieve when her cubs are killed by another lion?

Yes, the lioness does grieve when her cubs are killed by another lion. They are known to show various mourns and make various sounds just in order to show their grieve when the cubs get killed.

In the wild, it has also been seen that some lionesses have been known to eat their dead offspring as a way to help cope up with the loss.

It has also been seen that lionesses try a lot to save their cubs from being killed by a new male who has taken over the pride.

However, when the dominant new male wishes to kill the cubs’ lionesses become helpless in this regard, and often they are mere spectators when such things happen.

And, in such a case, lioness grieve when her cubs are getting killed.

In the wild, it has also been seen that other big cats like leopards, cheetah, other animals like hyenas, wild dogs, etc. can also wish to kill the lion cubs if they are not well secured by the pride. Such cause can also make the lioness grieve.

Lionesses have evolved in such a way and they are used to such cases. When a leader of a pride is killed, the first and foremost thing the winner does is to erase every trace of the defeated one.

He proceeds by killing cubs if there are any, and the mother has to tolerate such circumstances in serious grief.

But once the cubs are killed, after a while, the queen enters into her heat phase in preparation for a possible pregnancy and prepares herself to mate and have offsprings with the winner (new dominant) male.


Do lionesses stop a male lion from killing their cubs?

The answer is it depends on the wish of the lionesses. Lionesses may or may not stop a male lion from killing their cubs depending on the circumstances.

Lionesses will try their best to protect the cubs and can and will do the impossible for their serious protection, especially when it means to battle out intruding male lions who tries to capture the territory and win over the pride.

Most lionesses can fight to the death and gang up on the intruding males, just in order to keep their cubs out of harm’s way. Just like all other animals that have a strong maternal instinct.

Just in case, if a new winning male has successfully won over the pride and the females there, then the lionesses may not give their best to protect the cubs in front of the new dominating male.

So, in such a scenario, it’s obvious that they will only spectate and try to hide the cubs from getting killed.

In only a few scenarios, it has been seen that they aggressively gang up and protect the cubs from the new dominating male.

So, Asiatic female lions have better opted for a great strategy to mate with multiple males and they often create paternity-related confusions amongst the mating males, so that they’ll consider all the cubs their own.

However, it is also to be noted that not all types of lioness mate with multiple males. For example, unlike the Asiatic female lions, African female lions won’t mate with multiple males and the reason for this can be the difference in prey availability between the two groups.

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