Thursday, May 20, 2021

Do lions like water?

Unlike tigers, lions are not hugely fond of water. Whereas tigers can spend long periods immersed in water to keep cool, lions do not lie in water during the day. However, they are quite capable swimmers but, once again, less so than for the tiger. 


Tigers have been seen swimming in the open sea for up to 4 miles as I recall whereas lions have been recorded swimming across the Okavango and other major rivers according to CA Guggisberg in his book published in 1963: Simba: The Life of the Lion published by Chilton Books in New York.

Male lion of Okavango Delta
Male lion of Okavango Delta. Photo in public domain.

There is a group of lions living near the Okavango Delta in Botswana who have perhaps learned to accept water more than lions in general. The delta covers a large area and is a unique environment where there are seasonal floods. The average water depth is about 2-2.5 feet but there are some deeper areas. The lions there avoid the very deep water but know the area well. And as mentioned they are decent or perhaps even very good swimmers.

Also, unlike the tiger, lions are not particularly good at climbing at least relative to the other wild cat species such as the leopard which is an excellent climber. The lion is primarily terrestrial which means they live on the ground! Like all wild cats, they are, however, good jumpers and have been known to jump fences 2-3 m high.

It is said that young lions are quite good climbers and quite often play in a tree and can sometimes take to branches, within a tree, to avoid dogs. I've seen a lion chasing a leopard in a tree which indicates that they are not that bad at climbing after all.

My answer to the question in the title is, no, but they don't mind water. They seem to have the mentality of domestic cats when it comes to water.

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