Animal Kingdom Smackdown: Lion V. Tiger


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Animal Kingdom Smackdown Week 2 features two big cats to determine who the real king of the jungle is.

Jackson M. Meade

Who is the true king of the jungle? For most of our lives we have been told that it is undoubtedly the lion; but is that entirely true? Today we will explore which of the two largest cats in the world is stronger and more equipped to be the true king of the jungle: the lion or the tiger. Within these two cat species, I will be placing the largest of both species against one another; the Masai Lion and the Amur Tiger.


To begin, the Masai Lion lions are found in the plains of East Africa and can weight up to 450 pounds and grow to almost 10 feet long. Lions are very social cats and live in large groups, known as prides, of anywhere from 3 to 40 individuals. Lions are very muscular, so in order to keep their muscular strength, they have evolved a carnivorous diet, eating around 10 to 25 pounds of meat every day. Female lions do the majority of the hunting and food-gathering for their pride, not the males. 


Lions can reach speeds of up to 50 mph only in short bursts. They also excel in ambush situations with help from other individuals in their prides, using their tan coats to camouflage in tall grasses of the plains where they hunt. The greatest asset that lions have is their large, dark mane that covers their neck and back. This mane represents strength of a male, but also provides vital protection for the neck of the male lion. Their greatest weakness is their reliance on a group of other lions when in a fight. Lions are rarely independent, so they rely on their large social groups for protection.


Next, the Amur Tiger, also known as the Siberian Tiger, inhabit northeastern Asia and parts of Russia. can weigh up to 650 pounds and can be around 13 feet long. Tigers stand at around the same height as most lions, but have much denser muscles than lions, contributing to their extra weight. Tigers are very independent and solitary, rarely interacting with other members of their species unless it is for mating or a territorial dispute. 


Tiger’s are incredible swimmers and have evolved webbed feet to aid themselves in swimming. Tigers, like lions, are primarily ambush predators and can run 30 to 40 mph in a short burst. Tigers can burst from a hiding space and leap more than 30 feet towards a potential prey item. The greatest strength of the Amur Tiger is their extremely dense winter coat provides them with extra protection. Their greatest weakness is their lack of stamina. Most tigers can only pursue a target or fight off an attacker for a short period of time before they must back off and rest.


When placed against one another, the tiger has the clear size and weight advantage, while the lion has the speed and stamina advantage. If these two animals were placed against one another, however, stamina and speed would do little to save the lion. Male Tigers simply have more combat experience than male lions do, due to the lack of hunting done by many male lions. Tigers are also experienced one-on-one fighters in comparison to the group dependent lion. The Amur Tiger has more protection on its body as well, having a dense concentration of fur on its entire body rather than around the neck.