By TOSHIYUKI TAKEYA/ Staff Writer
July 20, 2022 at 10:00 JST
Editor's note: This is part of a series of videos offering an up-close perspective on the animal kingdom. A special 360-degree video camera system was set up in zoos and other facilities to show how the animals view their world as they interact.
Also visit our special 360-DEGREE LIVES page (http://t.asahi.com/360lives), where you can watch all the previous videos.
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Lions are called the king of the jungle for good reason. With their fearsome appearance and physical strength, adults have virtually no natural predators.
Also known as the king of beasts, lions actually do not live in the jungle. They primarily inhabit African savannas, or grasslands with scattered trees.
Lions are the second largest among big cats after tigers. Adult males, which boast golden manes, sometimes weigh more than 250 kilograms.
Three African lions are kept for exhibition at Tobu Zoo in Miyashiro, Saitama Prefecture.
A camera was installed on a wooden platform in the exhibition area, with chunks of raw horse flesh placed around it.
A male lion emerged when the gate opened. But contrary to expectations, it made a beeline for the camera instead of chomping on the meal that awaited.
When a lioness entered around 15 seconds later, however, the male chased it away and devoured the meat.
The lioness ran its tongue over the camera platform, biting on the lens filter and removing it from the camera.
Later, the lioness bit into a raw chicken suspended over the enclosure and ate it in front of the camera.
It started biting on the camera again, removing the device from the platform.
While tigers and other ferocious animals have featured in this series, this was the first time to observe the filter and the camera being wrenched by force.
Lions are the only cat species that form groups, called prides, in the wild, according to zoo attendant Kenta Kitahama.
A typical pride consists of one to six males and four to 12 related females as well as their cubs.
Females basically hunt and raise cubs together in a group.
The dominant male is in charge of protecting the pride from spotted hyenas and other males trying to muscle in.
If it fails to protect the pride, the alpha male is either killed or forced to become nomadic. Even if it succeeds, the will still be replaced by a younger and more powerful rival in two to three years, Kitahama said.
The first point of business for any new leader is to kill the cubs of its predecessor to prompt the lioness to become sexually active and have new cubs.
Threatened by a dwindling habitat that reduces their chances of finding prey, lions are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s Red List.
“Humans are the worst enemy for animals,” Kitahama said. “It is us who can destroy them. But it is also us who can bring them back.”
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This is the last installment of the 360-Degree Lives series, which started in 2016.
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