In The Wild
Asian lion (Panthera leo persica) originally had large populations across southwest Asia. Today, there is only a very small remnant population located in India’s Gir Forest with only an estimated 350 left in the wild.
The Asian lion differs from the African lion in several ways. Asian lions are generally smaller than their African cousins, and the males do not develop such a substantial mane, so their ears are more visible. Both species of lions live in groups called prides; however, the Asian pride is smaller. An Asian lion pride usually has two lionesses and cubs, while the African pride has four to six adult females. Male Asian lions do not spend much time with their prides unless it is to feed or breed.
Asian lions live on a diet of deer, antelope, wild boar and water buffalo. All of the lionesses in the pride hunt together to overpower their prey. Males hardly ever hunt, but will assist the females if they are hunting a large, aggressive animal. Regardless of whether the male has helped or not, he always gets to eat first.
Since the Asian lion now exists as an isolated population, the species is vulnerable to a number of threats from unpredictable events such as forest fires or epidemics. Poaching, habitat destruction, conflict with humans and domestic cattle, and declining numbers of prey animals present further threats to this highly vulnerable species.
As a result of this strict guidelines prevent zoos from holding both African and Asian lions for fear of disease transmission or potential hybridisation.