The Food Chain of a Lion

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  • 0:00 What is a Food Chain?
  • 1:04 Trophic Levels
  • 1:45 Food Chain of a Lion
  • 2:38 Importance
  • 3:05 Threats to Lions
  • 3:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

This lesson is about the food chain of a lion. Here, we'll examine where lions live and some facts about these animals. We will also review what food chains are and learn what the specific food chain for a lion looks like.

What is a Food Chain?

Imagine you're on an African safari. Your guide is driving you through the African savanna in a rugged Jeep with the top down. As you cruise along, you see beautiful herds of antelope and zebra. In the grass nearby, you catch sight of a lion laying low. Suddenly, it bolts from its well-concealed hiding place. The zebra and antelope scatter, but the lioness takes down one of the slow ones. The lioness drags her prey back to the pride, or group of lions, to feast.

Although we'd be lucky to go on an African safari in person, we can get a taste of it today in this lesson. We'll learn how the prey gets their food, and how that energy is transferred to the lion. In order to do this, we need to cover some food chain basics.

A food chain is a diagram showing the linear transfer of energy through different organisms in an ecosystem. In other words, it shows what eats what. The energy transferred is in the form of food. Food chains simply demonstrate how energy moves from one organism to the next, in a straight line. In this lesson, we are going to focus on the food chain of lions.

Trophic Levels

Food chains are made up of layers, called trophic levels. There are four trophic levels in most food chains.

At the base of each food chain are producers. Producers make their own food and are usually green plants. Next, primary consumers are herbivores that eat producers. Herbs are plants, so an herbivore only eats plants, just like vegans! Secondary consumers are carnivores that eat primary consumers. Carnivores are animals that only eat meat. At the top of the food chain are tertiary consumers, which are top predators. These animals eat both primary and secondary consumers and keep the food web in check. Here is a diagram of a food chain.

food chain diagram

Food Chain of a Lion

Lions are large cats that now live exclusively in Africa. Male cats can weigh over 500 pounds! They live and hunt in groups called prides. The female lion, or lioness, does most of the hunting, but males also hunt. Lions are a tertiary predator. They are at the top of the food chain in the African savanna. Lions mainly eat grazing animals, like zebras, antelope, wildebeests and occasionally elephants. However, they also are known to go after secondary consumers, like baby hippos and crocodiles.

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