Lions at the Artis Royal Zoo (also known as Natura Artis Magistra), Amsterdam (Holland)
The Lion is one of the five big cats in the genus Panthera and a member of the family Felidae. The commonly used term African Lion collectively denotes the several subspecies found in Africa. Renowned for its majesty and nicknamed "the king of the jungle", the lion possesses both beauty and strength. Lions vary in colour but typically sport light yellow-brown coats. Mature male lions are unique among big cats due the thick brown or black manes that encircle their necks and protect them while fighting. With some males exceeding 250 Kilograms (about 550 lb) in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger. Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia (where an endangered remnant population resides in Gir Forest National Park in India) while other types of lions have disappeared from North Africa and Southwest Asia in historic times. Until the late Pleistocene, about 10.000 years ago, the lion was the most widespread large land mammal after humans. They were found in most of Africa, across Eurasia from western Europe to India, and in the Americas from the Yukon to Peru. Lions are currently listed as "Vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species; and in West and Central Africa, the species is now classified as "Endangered". Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes for concern.