Physically, lions are a tawny golden color, and are the only cats whose sexes can be told apart at a distance. Males bear thick, shaggy manes of either blond, black, red, or brown, while lionesses are barren around the neck. Both sexes have a tail tuft, always black in color, though cubs are born without this tuft. Lion eyes are most commonly amber, but brown-eyed, green-eyed, red-eyed, and blue-eyed lions have been observed.
In the universe
The lions in the film series look and behave markedly different from actual lions. The Pride Landers are the main group of lions featured throughout the franchise, though other prides such as the Outsiders have been lightly touched upon.
The Pride Landers operate in a monarchy system, where the firstborn child of the current ruler serves as the crown prince or princess. This child is anointed, then presented before the animals of the kingdom in a ceremony that occurs at dawn. Sometime after, the ruler-to-be is assigned a lion or lioness whom they will marry upon reaching adulthood, though this tradition appears to have been broken with Kiara.
Though hyenas are their sworn enemies and portrayed as such in most material, lions have been known to conspire with them. Scar maintained a friendship with Shenzi's clan from young adulthood to late adulthood, as well as his great-nephew Kion, who befriended a hyena, Jasiri and her clan
True to their species, lions have rival prides, as seen with the Outsiders and Pride Landers. Power can be stolen through usurpation, as seen with Scar.
- In the first movie, hyenas take on both lions and lionesses. In reality, hyenas only mob lionesses if there is a three- or four-to-one advantage. However, male lions are avoided at all costs. Even if the hyenas outnumber a male twenty-to-one, the hyenas will give him a wide berth. Although, there is a known case of twenty hyenas attacking a male lion when he entered their territory.
- In The Lion King universe, only the male lions have whiskers, while the lionesses have none.
- According to the animators, a single whisker had to be drawn on a separate piece of paper, making it extremely difficult to animate them on several characters. As a result, only the male lions were given whiskers.