lionsinloveYou might want to remove small children from the InterWebs, because the following post is not “family friendly”. It’s all about Lion Sex. Apparently, yesterday was Hook Up Night for Lions in Ngorongoro Crater. We have the pictures to prove it. The Crater has 100 resident lions and we were determined to see some. We hadn’t been a few hours on the Crater floor when I spotted something very dark among some reeds by a lake. Our guide showed us it was a large male lion and then pointed out the reclining female lion beside him. “They are a hooneymooning couple”, he informed us. “A mating lion pair will go off together alone for about seven days and have sex every fifteen minutes.” Every fifteen minutes?! That meant we just had to sit tight and wait for the next show to begin. “The female leads,” our guide Henry told us, “She will move to the spot she wants and the male will have to follow her.”

lioness in reeds

Sure enough, within ten minutes, the lioness stepped out of the reeds.

male lion on beach

With a large male lion in hot pursuit. He was limping slightly and Henry guessed he’d had to fight for this lioness.

She led him to the beach. Because ROMANCE!

She led him to the beach. Because ROMANCE!

He did what male lions are supposed to do.

He did what male lions are supposed to do.

It must have lasted all of a minute. And perhaps he didn’t perform up to expectations.

She chased him away with a snarl.

She chased him away with a snarl.

Did I mention we were the only safari car in the area, so this was a private show. Except for a blonde woman who drove up in vehicle marked Serengheti Lion Project. This was Inge who has been researching lions in the Crater and just outside since 1972. Henry said the guides call her Mama Simba.

By this time the lions were totally relaxed, and Mama Simba said she was going to drive over and identify them.

By this time the lions were totally relaxed, and Mama Simba said she was going to drive over and identify them.

Apparently, this is one of those few times you can feel comfortable getting this close to lions to identify their unique whisker spots.

Apparently, this is one of those few times you can feel comfortable getting this close to lions to identify their unique whisker spots.

Mama Simba came back and showed us their ID cards.

Mama Simba came back and showed us their ID cards.

The male lion has the unexciting research name of MG91. He’s a five year old. We’ll call him Brad. The female is LA79, but also has the name Moies. She’s eleven years old. So she’s not only a lion, she’s a cougar! We stayed around for another show — which happened exactly 15 minutes from the last one — and chatted with Mama Simba about her research.

We drove around for about an hour and ran right into another lion hook-up.

We drove around for about an hour and ran right into another lion hook-up.

Pretty soon the lioness started to circle the male.

Pretty soon the lioness started to circle the male.

Everyone assumed the position...

Everyone assumed the position…

...and the show was on.

…and the show was on.

This time there was a lot of purring. Or sounds that a freight train might make if it could purr.

This time there was a lot of purring. Or sounds that a freight train might make if it could purr.

This lion even got a High Five from his lioness.

This lion even got a High Five from his lioness.

He also had a bigger audience.

He also had a bigger audience.

Note: If you want to read more about Mama Simba and her work with the Serengeti Lion Project, here’s her website. (Her project is in conjunction with the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences.)If you happen to be in this area taking pictures of lions, especially if you are outside the conservation area on the rim where the Masai live, the project wants you to submit your photos to help their latest endeavor, which is finding ways to get the Masai more closely involved in lion conservation. It’s part of a larger program called Snapshot Serengeti that channels submissions from tourists to help track animals.

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