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The Lion King or The Lion Queen? Know The Real Story Behind Lion Family Dynamics

We don't know what's the secret behind Disney's creativity but they definitely made our childhood magical. Their latest offering The Lion King that has graced the movie theaters last weekend is one of their many quests to revive the old animated classics.

Disney is known for its imagineering (imagination and engineering) skills, but while we were busy talking about this visually fantastic movie and technical superiorities, did we realize that they got the whole lion family dynamics wrong? For, it is the female lions who rules the pride not the males.

PC: A still from the movie The Lion King having Simba beside his father Mufasa

The movie is all about the Simba and his ordeal towards the kingship of the Pride Lands.

The director of the Lion Researcher Center at the University of Minnesota, Craig Packer said to New York Times, "It is always a matriarch who actually leads a lion pride," So, if we take into account the film, Simba's mother, Sarabi would have been more likely the mother of the group and probably the film would have been more factually correct if it were called "The Lion Queen".

The Lion Family Dynamics

In the movie, the story revolves around the male lions Simba, Mufasa and Scar. These males had a significant role in the movie. Among these, Simba had to succeed his father Mufasa and become the next king of the pride. However, in reality, the male cubs never succeed their father. In fact, they are trained by their father to protect themselves when they (male cubs) have to leave their native group. In the movie, Simba leaves the group after the death of his father but in reality, male cubs upon turning 2, leave their group in search of new group.

Who is more powerful?

In the movie, Sarabi, the mother of Simba has a trifling role which is too small to be remembered. If Sarabi was a real-life lioness, she would have been more powerful than shown in the movie. In the real-life, Mufasa would have never ruled the lion pride. In fact, it would be Sarabi who would rule the group. A lion pride is always matrilineal.

According to a National Geographic report, the movie then would have been named as 'The Lion Queen'.

If you compare the physique of a lion and a lioness, you will find that the males are more muscular and appear stronger than females but the lioness is known to be dominant in the group. Moreover, all important decisions are taken by female lions. The hunting and raising of cubs are the duties of females and it is they who decide if a male can be a part of the pride or not. In fact, the safety of the pride also comes into their account.

Members of the Pride

A lion pride consists of 25-30 members including three males, a dozen or more females and the cubs. The availability of food and water also affects the size of pride.

Lionesses will hunt in a group ensuring teamwork. After the hunt, the food is shared; with the adult lions having the first share. Thereafter, the females go for their share and at last cubs are given the share.

The males will guard the boundary of their pride's territory by urinating and roaring. The females will keep the intruder off and will decide when new males should enter the pride.

The female cubs or say the daughters, in the lion pride are meant to stay with their mother and look after the pride unless the size of the pride is too big. Once the size of the pride grows, the daughters are then given a next-door new territory to start a new lion pride.

Why males leave their group

When the cubs turn two, the male cubs are forced to quit the group and find a new one for themselves. Once left, the males never return to their pride. In fact, they go in search of other lion pride to enter. But entering a new pride is not that easy. In order to enter a pride, the males have to face fierce competition.

But in the movie, Simba returns to his native pride and has Nala as his better half. If it was in real-life, then Simba would have been married off to his sister. YES! You read it right. In fact, it could have been his aunt, cousins, grandmother or his mother!

In a lion pride, all females are related. "Just to ensure the genetic diversity the male cubs have to leave their native pride as it quite essential," said by Dr. Kim Young-Overton, the Kaza director for Panthera to The New York Times. This is the main reason why male cubs leave behind the pride they are born into.

In addition to it, if Mufasa and Scar existed in the real life, they would have had a friendly bonding. If not, the pride would have been attacked by other lions. Even if one of them was dominating over the other, there would have been a lioness dominating over both the lions.

The Manes

The manes of a lion are the sign of his fitness. Also, it safeguards the lion's neck from attackers. Interestingly, lionesses are attracted towards males having quality manes. According to Craig Packer, "Growing black manes signifies the genetic superiority in lions and a high level of testosterone."

Therefore, in the movie, it should have been the Mufasa with the black manes because that's what females like. However, the color and luster of manes depend solely upon the health condition of the lion.

Sadly, today the species of Lions are not the same as before. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, lions have become endangered. They have come to 8% of their historical existence. Credits to urbanization and attacks by cattle owners after their cattle are attacked by lions, have significantly decreased the number of lions.

After watching The Lion King we should join hands to protect the endangered lion species and the animals around them because that's the 'Circle of Life'.

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