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Ra Lion roars in this header.

Why Do Lions Roar?


You’re watching the end of The Lion King. Simba makes his triumphant return, ascends Pride Rock, and lets out the biggest, soul-shakingest roar ever…

But how accurate is that?

Do lions roar when they’re excited? Happy? About to overthrow their respective evil uncles?

Why do lions roar?

The Conservators Center may not have all the answers…but we have a lot of ‘em!


Why do lions roar? Ra Lion knows! Photo by Kevin Robinson.

Ra Lion: “Who goes there?!”

Why Do Lions Roar? To Be Considerate Of Each Other

Alright, not really.

Basically, members of a pride roar sometimes to figure out where the other members are. This is social roaring, a calling we refer to as oofing here at the Center.

It’s not aggressive or scary, though it sounds that way to human ears! They’re just locating each other.

“Hey, auntie! Sis! Where are ya?”

Different prides will also roar, or oof, to ensure they don’t tread on one another’s territory. Again, this is not anything mean — it’s so that they AVOID conflict, not start any!


Daisy Lioness says: "Why do lions roar? Why do you need to know?!"

Daisy Lioness: “Whoa, what’s that over there? Oof! Oooof!”

Why Do Lions Roar? Because Things Get Super Weird

Or rather, lions sometimes roar/oof when something is atypical in their environment.

They are very observant critters! Again, this is their way of checking in on one another.

“Something reaaaaally strange is happening, but I’m okay! Are you okay? Are you seeing this?!”

Our lions are fairly calm and don’t do this very often — especially since we try our best not to over-excite them. We have no doubt, though, that if they saw…say…a moose wander into the park, they’d oof up a storm.

(FYI: mooses aren’t endemic to North Carolina. But that’s why it’d be weird!)


Why do lions roar? Enoch Lion knows! Photo by Kathy Patterson.

Enoch Lion: “Yo! Stop fighting!”

Why Do Lions Roar? Because They Can Be Strangely Peaceful

You probably think lions like to fight. They’re big, tough, toothy, claw-y cats, after all. If you had all those bits, wouldn’t you like to show them off?

But in a pride, you don’t want any member injured. That means one less lion to effectively protect the cubs and hunt for food.

So, when two members of the pride start to have a little spat, the rest of the pride will roar/oof. There’s immense social pressure to roar back; in time, the two cats with an issue will roar, as well.

After all the roaring, the two cats seem to forget why they were fighting in the first place.

It’s like taking time off and counting to ten.


Why do lions roar? Matthai Lion knows! Photo by Ron Smith.

Matthai Lion: “Trekkie! Roland! How ya doin’?!”

Why Do Lions Roar? To Say Hi To Wolves

This obviously doesn’t happen in the wild, but it happens at the Conservators Center!

When our wolves howl, our lions like to vocalize back. Cross-species hellos are so touching, don’t you think?

It’s such a common occurrence at the Center that we can almost guarantee you’ll hear it if you visit us. Purchase your tour tickets today!


Chelsea Eckert (chelsea@conservatorscenter.org) is the Conservators Center’s communications coordinator. When she is not baby-talking dingoes, wrangling Fiona Fennec Fox, or giggling at our Assistant Director, she types away on the internet for hours at a time hoping to excite more people about the Conservators Center and its astounding creatures.