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Barbary lion

Panthera leo leo

Barbary lions were once native to North Africa, including the Atlas Mountains but are now extinct in the wild.

The last recorded Barbary lion was shot in Morocco in 1942. The only Barbary lions left in the world are now found in zoos and are part of a global and collaborative breeding programme to ensure their future survival.

Barbary lions are recorded throughout history. The Romans used Barbary lions in the Colosseum to battle with gladiators. Thousands of these cats were slaughtered during the reign of Caesar. These lions were also kept in the menagerie at the Tower of London and were offered as gifts to royal families of Morocco and Ethiopia. It is believed that Barbary lions today are directly descended from these ‘royal lions’.

The Barbary lion is one of the largest lion sub-species. This big cat measure one metre in height at the shoulder and up to three and a half metres in length. Average weight can be up to 230 kilograms.

Belfast Zoo is home to a pride of Barbary lions. Our male lion is named Qays and he lives with two females named Fidda and Theibba.

IUCN Status


The IUCN status of the Barbary lion is extinct in the wild.

For more info on classifications visit

Animal class


Conservation status

Extinct in the wild.




These beautiful big cats are now extinct in the wild. The last recorded Barbary lion was shot in 1942.


Carnivore. When they lived in the wild, Barbary lions hunted large mammals such as deer and gazelle.