Are Pet Lions Realistic?! Details You Should Really Know!

I’m sure most people have heard of some celebrity keeping a pet lion, but is that a realistic option for the majority of us?

What are the legal aspects of owning a lion as a pet? Can you really have one as a pet or is it just a pipe dream?

Let’s get all your questions answered and find out if a lion as a pet is a good fit for you!

Can You Have a Lion as a Pet?

While you may hear of an occasional celebrity owning a lion as a pet, it isn’t a good option for the majority of us. Lions are very dangerous wild animals and fall under certain restrictions in many places.

This will make it very difficult to have a lion as a pet in many places. However, that does depend on where you live and what exotic pet laws are in place for big cats and dangerous animals in your local area.

Can You Own a Pet Lion?

Can You Have a Pet Lion in The United States (U.S.)?

Big cats fall under the category of dangerous exotic animals. Due to this, lions are banned as pets in at least 21 states in America due to them being considered dangerous animals. They are also banned as pets in 35 states that have specific legislation banning big cats as pets.

Only 5 states do not have bans on dangerous animals. The 5 states that have no bans on keeping dangerous animals as pets are Alabama, Nevada, North & South Carolina, and Wisconsin.

Only 6 states have no bans or regulations regarding keeping big cats as pets. The 6 states that allow big cats as pets include Alabama, Delaware, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

Other states such as Montana, Pennsylvania, and Texas may allow a big cat or dangerous pet with a valid permit. However, this may be overruled by local government and laws.

The only real solution is to check with your local officials and read over the exotic pet laws in your area to determine if you can keep a lion as a pet.

Some states allow the ownership of a lion for commercial purposes with a valid permit, but that does not include owning a lion as a pet.

Can You Have a Lion as a Pet in Canada?

Some provinces in Canada allow big cats as pets. While keeping a pet lion is banned in BC, other provinces in Canada have varying regulations on big cats. Checking with your local officials will help determine if you can own a lion as a pet in your area.

According to a survey, there are over 3,000 lions and tigers that are being kept as pets in Canada, so it is definitely a possibility, but that all just depends on where you live and what exotic pet laws are in place in your region.

Can You Have a Pet Lion in Australia?

Australia has strict regulations for importing exotic animals. Currently, only dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and certain bird species are allowed to be imported into Australia. Even these imports are heavily restricted.

Due to the strict regulations on what animal species can be imported into Australia, it is currently illegal to own a pet lion in Australia. In order to import an exotic animal or any animal into Australia, you will need a valid permit and you will need to comply with the Department of Agriculture’s import conditions.

Can You Have a Lion as a Pet in The United Kingdom (UK)?

It is legal to keep a lion as a pet in the UK, just not everywhere in the UK. If you want to keep a pet lion in the United Kingdom, you will need to obtain a dangerous animal permit and go through the legal process.

Not everyone will be approved for a permit and not every region will allow big cats as pets.

Laws vary nationally and locally, so the best option is to contact your local officials or find the official government website that lists the details of their exotic pet and dangerous animal laws.

Are Lions Good Pets?

Lions are not good pets! Don’t be fooled by the allure of owning a lion as a pet. These are very wild and very dangerous animals that will kill you!

I’ve read articles and watched news clips where keepers have been mauled to death even after having lions for many years.

Lions are very unpredictable as pets and shouldn’t be kept. Aside from the dangerous aspect, lions are huge and will spray large amounts of urine everywhere.

Don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to have a smelly house because of my pet.

Aside from those reasons, there are many other reasons why keeping a lion as a pet is a bad idea. Let’s look at lion behavior and temperament to give you a better understanding of why pet lions are just not realistic.

Pet Lion Behavior & Temperament

Are Lions Affectionate?

Sure, a tame lion (if there is such a thing) can be affectionate to its keeper. However, they can also turn and kill their keeper in a matter of seconds. This is not something you want to have to think about when you are trying to go to sleep at night. I have a chihuahua so I think I’m pretty safe from getting eaten in my sleep. 🙂

Are Lions Aggressive?

Lions are highly aggressive and will be even more aggressive around their cubs, territories, and around their dead prey. While they aren’t typically aggressive if they don’t feel threatened, they can be unpredictable, which makes them one of the most dangerous animals in the world.

Are Lions Dangerous?

Lions are one of the most dangerous animal species in the world. They can and will kill humans if they feel threatened or sometimes – for no real discernable reason at all.

If you go on a safari and get to experience wildlife in its natural habitat, it is best to keep your distance – especially with big cats like lions and tigers. You are usually safe if you stay in your vehicle, but people have been killed when getting out and trying to take selfies around dangerous animals. Just don’t do it because somebody loves you and wants you to come home at the end of the day!

Lions are big, powerful, and aggressive when needed. These characteristics prove that lions are not suitable as pets and need to stay where they belong away from us, in their natural habitat.

Are Lions Domesticated?

I would not trust the domestication of a lion. Lions are dangerous wild animals that are not suitable for domestic life. Along with being one of the most dangerous animals on the planet, they are also big and would require so much attention and accommodations to keep as pets.

Even when keepers have lions for whatever purpose, they are very careful in their approach and are trained to handle these kinds of animals. Even with the training and how careful keepers are, there are still many instances where lions have killed humans in domestic settings.

So, don’t trust the domestication of a lion. Being wrong could cost you your life. Just go with a smaller cat breed that is more suitable for domestication and not dangerous like lions.

Are Lions Friendly?

Lions are not friendly. They aren’t interested in being your friend. Lions are wild animals and are not to be approached or kept as pets. It is best to keep your distance and be alert at all times if you are in the vicinity of a lion, especially when you are invading their territory.

Are Lions Intelligent?

Lions are considered to be the smartest species of the big cats. They are very social within their group and have high cognitive abilities. Social animals typically have a higher level of intelligence because they have interactions more than solitary animals.

While lions may not appear to be very intelligent to us, they are actually smarter than many other animals. Do not underestimate the intelligence of lions as they are not as dumb as one might think.

Are Lions Solitary?

Lions are not solitary animals. Lions are very social and a pride can consist of a family between 2 to 40 members. Most of the members of a pride will be females and cubs but a pride can contain at least 3 to 4 adult male lions.

Female cubs typically stay with the pride as they age while most male lions will leave the pride once they are close to adulthood.

Are Lions Territorial?

Lions are very territorial and will defend their pride, offspring, and territories. If they feel threatened, they can be very dangerous animals that will protect their territory by any means necessary.

If you find yourself in the territory of a lion, it would be best to keep a large distance between you and the lions and get out of that area as soon as possible.

Pet Lions for Sale - Cost of Owning Lions

How Much Do Lions Cost?

Surprisingly, lions are not as expensive as other exotic animals that are kept as pets. In fact, you can purchase a lion cub for as little as $2,000 but the majority of lions you find in the exotic pet trade will cost between $5,000 to $15,000.

White lions have the biggest price tag due to how rare they are. A white lion can cost over $100,000 if you can even find one for sale.

However, this cost is just the initial cost. Lions will require a large enclosure and a heavy meat diet as well as specialty veterinary services to keep as a pet that will hurt your pockets even more.

For most of us, this just isn’t a feasible option even though the initial cost isn’t as bad as one would think for common lions.

Where Can I Buy a Lion?

Lions are only available from dealers that breed big cats. Since these exotic animals are also considered dangerous, not many breeders will have them readily available for sale.

Lions for Sale

You can find some lions for sale on websites, but they are typically sold at breeder auctions in local areas. Here are a few websites to give you an idea of how to purchase a pet lion and how much it will cost you.

Please note that we do not endorse these websites and are presenting them purely for informational purposes. We have no affiliation with these sites and have not purchased an animal from them.

So proceed with caution if you are really looking to buy a lion as a pet.

Adopt a Lion

Lions are not available for physical adoption, but you can adopt a lion as a symbolic gesture from WWF by purchasing a gift that will help support lions and their natural habitats.


After reading this article, you should have a pretty good idea about what it takes to own a lion as a pet. For the majority of us, lions do not make good pets and should be left in their natural habitats.

This article also discussed what you can expect to pay for a pet lion, what the dangers are of owning a lion as a pet, and why it isn’t a good idea to own a lion due to how dangerous these animals are.

I hope I was able to give you every answer that you were looking for about owning a lion as a pet. That’s all I have for this article. If you are interested in learning about other exotic pets, click here to read more relevant articles.

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This site acts as a provider of general information about animals that may be useful to members of the general public. Please consult with a certified expert or licensed veterinarian for any form of animal safety or medical advice.