Published: September 2006
Did You Know?
In Did You Know? the National Geographic magazine team shares extra information we gathered to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects.

Most wild cats are solitary creatures, coming together only to mate, but the lion is a notable exception: It's the only truly social cat. Lion society is based on the pride, a group of 2 to 18 closely related adult females and cubs, plus associated males. Why do they tend to stick together? Obviously, hunting as a group gives the pride a big advantage: They can overcome larger prey than if each of them hunted alone. But there's a downside: Lions who hunt together have to share the food—and there may not be enough to go around. There are other advantages, however. The group may defend the cubs against aggressive wandering males. Studies have also shown that lionesses working cooperatively have a better chance of defending their hunting territories, and of fending off hyenas trying to steal their prey—and their cubs.

—Kathy B. Maher