Lion King? Blair Drummond expert insists it's female lions who rule pride

New blockbuster film The Lion King should be The Lion Queen – because in real life the females are “the heart and soul of a pride”, experts say.

The Disney classic may be one of the great father and son movie plots of all time, following the fortunes of king of the lions Mufasa and his young cub Simba.

But as the live action remake of the much-loved 1994 hit arrives in cinemas this week, one of the world’s leading lion experts said it should be about the females.

US Lion Research Center boss Craig Packer said: “Females are the core. The heart and soul of the pride. The males come and go.

“Females define their territory. They’ve grown up there and have been listening to neighbours roaring their whole lives.”

One of Scotland’s top lionkeepers agrees.

Brian Reid, 46, cares for eight African lions at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling. He said: “The lionesses do all the work, the males take all the glory.


“You’ve got the dominant male, he’s the boss but if he’s mated with one of the females, she rises to the top and he follows her about – she imposes her authority on the pride basically. There is always an alpha female and she’ll bully the rest.

“If you think of the big male, lions are lazy, it’s the females that are more active, stalking and preying and looking for food, always on the go.”

Brian expects a huge interest in the Blair Drummond lions as a result of the new movie.

He added: “Anything showing animals on screen promotes interest in wildlife and animals so hopefully it’ll be a busy summer.

“I love my job, it’s a privilege to work with animals like this.

“The closest I’ll get to them is when they are cubs. You can pick them up and weigh them but after six months old, there’s no contact at all.”

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