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Cultural depictions of lions are known from the Upper Paleolithic period, with carvings and paintings from the Lascaux and Chauvet Caves in France dated to 17,000 years ago, through virtually all ancient and medieval cultures where they once occurred.It has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, and in contemporary films and literature.
Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas.
Although the cause of the decline is not fully understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes of concern.
The lion's closest relatives are the other Panthera species: the tiger, snow leopard, jaguar, and leopard.
Results of phylogenetic studies published in 20 indicated that the jaguar and the lion belong to one sister group, which diverged about 2.06 million years ago.
The majority of lions kept in zoos are hybrids of different subspecies. The following table is based on the classification of the species Panthera leo provided in Mammal Species of the World.
Approximately 77% of the captive lions registered by the International Species Information System are of unknown origin. It also reflects the classification used by IUCN Red List assessors and the revision by the Cat Classification Task Force: This is the nominate lion subspecies.
Males have about a 50% chance of having a mane, but if they grow them, their manes will be modest: around 50% the size of a pure lion mane.
Ligers are much bigger than normal lions and tigers, typically 3.65 m (12.0 ft) in length, and can weigh up to 500 kg (1,100 lb).
Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire, and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoos over the world since the late 18th century.
Zoos are cooperating worldwide in breeding programs for the endangered Asiatic lions.
The Asiatic lion persica was the most distinctive, and the Cape lion had characteristics allying it more with P. Lions in eastern Kenya are genetically much closer to lions in Southern Africa than to lions in the Aberdare National Park in western Kenya.