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Barbary lion

Panthera leo leo

Barbary lion

Barbary lions were once native to North Africa, including the Atlas Mountains but are now extinct in the wild.

The last recorded Barbary lion was shot in Morocco in 1942. The only Barbary lions left in the world are now found in zoos and are part of a global and collaborative breeding programme to ensure their future survival.

Barbary lions are recorded throughout history. The Romans used Barbary lions in the Colosseum to battle with gladiators. Thousands of these cats were slaughtered during the reign of Caesar. These lions were also kept in the menagerie at the Tower of London and were offered as gifts to royal families of Morocco and Ethiopia. It is believed that Barbary lions today are directly descended from these ‘royal lions’.

Belfast Zoo is home to a pride of Barbary lions. Our male lion is named Qays and he lives with two females named Fidda and Theibba.

Animal class


Diet - Carnivore
When they lived in the wild, Barbary lions hunted large mammals such as deer and gazelle.

The Barbary lion is one of the largest lion sub-species. This big cat measure one metre in height at the shoulder and up to three and a half metres in length. Average weight can be up to 230 kilograms.

Before extinction, they were once found in the mountain forests of north Africa.

Conservation status
Extinct in the wild.

Deforestation was a major factor in the decline of the Barbary lion. Civil wars and using Barbary lions for sport also caused the deaths of many.

Current population
These beautiful big cats are now extinct in the wild. The last recorded Barbary lion was shot in 1942.

Zoo population
There are less than 90 Barbary lions living in zoos around the world.