Asiatic lion

Panthera leo persica


The range of the lion subspecies of Asia formerly stretched across the coastal forests of northern Africa and from northern Greece across  southwest Asia to eastern India.

The lion remained widespread in Asia until the mid-19th century, when the advent of firearms led to its decline. By 1940 the Asiatic lion had disappeared everywhere, except for the Gir Forest in West India.

To protect the lion, the Gir National Park (259 km2) and Wildlife Sanctuary (1,153 km2) was established in 1965. The area is vegetated with a mixed deciduous teak forest and acacia thorn savannah. The annual rainfall is 650 to 1,000 mm. Outside the sanctuary there is cultivation, dense human population and grazing livestock. A considerable amount of people moves through the protected area. Four large temples are located in the forest, and several major roads and a railroad cut through it. With the current population of about 300 Asiatic lions, the maximum carrying capacity of the Gir Forest has been reached, conflicts with livestock raisers increase and attacks on people happen.

The single population of the Asiatic lion in the Gir Forest is vulnerable to unpredictable events, such as an epidemic or a large forest fire. To save the species, establishment of at least one other wild population is advisable. Preparations are under way.

In 2005, the captive population of Asiatic lions was 79 in Europe and 89 in India.

Compared to the African lion, the Asiatic lion has:

  • a slightly smaller size
  • a longitudinal fold of skin on the belly
  • a scantier mane at the top of the head, so that the ears are visible
  • a longer tail tassel
  • some differences in skull structure

Geneticists have found only minor differences between Asiatic and African lions, less than between human races.

Prides of Asiatic lions contain 2–3 females with cubs, males generally associate with their pride only when mating or on a large kill. The prides of Asiatic lions are smaller than those of African lions. A lesser degree of sociality in Asiatic lions may be a function of the smaller prey available to them.

Aasia-lõvi-Igor Aasia-lõvi-Janek-Kiin Aasia-lõvi-Kaidi-Kontaveit Aasia-lõvi-Karine-Purgel Aasia-lõvi-Kristi-Dodjak Aasia-lõvi-Zakulleh Aasia-lõvi-Rambo-Veedler aasia-lõvi-kaisa


  • Ticket office
  • Indoor expositions *
  • Children’s Zoo

*Indoor expositions are closed on Mondays.
The Zoo closes two hours after the ticket office is closed.

How to get here

Paldiski mnt. 145 – North Entrance

From Tallinn city centre (Kaubamaja) bus no. 42 (Bus stop Zoo) From Freedom square (Vabaduse väljak) buses no. 22, 41, and 42 (Bus stop Zoo) From Railway station (Balti jaam) buses no. 21, 41, and 43 (Bus stop Zoo)

Ehitajate tee 150 – West Entrance

From Tallinn city centre (Kaubamaja) bus no. 42 (Bus stop Karikakra or Nurmenuku) From Railway station (Balti jaam) bus no. 43 (Bus stop Karikakra, Nurmenuku or Zoo) Buses no. 10, 12, 13, 28, 37, 45, 46, 47

Zoo map


E-R +372 6943 300; Emergency: 512 69 65

Ehitajate tee 150/Paldiski mnt. 145
Tallinn 13522, Estonia

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