In the YouTube clip, the adult-sized lioness is filmed prowling around her living space, seemingly in an excitable state. Spanish-speaking voices are heard approaching the gate of the enclosure, and we see the fearsome beast approach to investigate them. The lioness then paces from side to side and issues guttural noises. And when the gate is unlocked and opened, what happens next will have your jaw on the floor.
Lionesses like her, however, typically inhabit Africa’s savanna and grassland, although they may also take to bush and forest. And lions are unusually social compared to other species of cats, as they group together in prides consisting of related females and offspring and a small number of adult males. In the wild, moreover, female lions like the one in the YouTube video typically hunt together, preying mostly on large mammals.
Sadly, though, the lion as a species is under threat. Indeed, it is listed as “vulnerable” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. That has been the case since the 1990s, when the African lion population as a whole dropped by an alarming 43 percent. Furthermore, in 2016 the animal welfare agency labeled the West African lion in particular as being “critically endangered.” And while experts are unable to indicate exactly why lion numbers have been falling, the finger of suspicion can definitely be pointed at the human race, with man’s interference and developmental encroachment on to natural habitats being likely factors.