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Brave Young Lioness Swims River


While on a game drive in the Lower Zambezi National Park, we briefly sighted a lioness with two sub-adult cubs (a male and a female).

About an hour later, on our way back to camp, we found the young female on the bank of one of the rivers that flow through the park. She was nervous and freful, moving around anxiously, then scanning the far bank and calling for her mother who must have crossed the river earler with the bigger male cub. The pictures below tell the story.

Juvenile lioness moving nervously along river bank Nervous and fretful, the female cub moves anxiously along the river bank

Young lioness calls across river to mother At the water's edge, she stares at the other side while calling for her mother and brother

Lion cub steps into river, Lower Zambezi, Zambia Bravely, she steps into the shallows of the river

Lioness standing in river shallows, Lower Zambezi, Zambia Then pauses, looking back over her shoulder at the safety of land

Young lioness bares her teeth in fear before swimming river Apprehensive and scared of the water, she bares her teeth in fear

Lion cub in river looks back at safety of land, Lower Zambezi, Zambia Then takes a last, lingering look back towards the bank

Lion cub swimming river, Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia Overcoming her fear, she plunges into deep water and paddles rapidly for the other side

Young lioness climbs out of river, Lower Zambezi, Zambia The crossing complete, she must climb a near-vertical bank to get out of the water

Lion cub goes in search of mother, Lower Zambezi, Zambia Safely on land, she goes in search of her family

Young lioness reaches out to her mother with paw, Lower Zambezi, Zambia Once re-united with mother and big brother, she reaches out to her mother with a paw ...

Lion cub rubs against mother, Lower Zambezi NP, Zambia Then rubs her head affectionately against her mother as the three of them head off together

This was only the second time I'd seen a lion swimming and, amazingly, both sightings occurred while staying at Mwambashi River Lodge in Zambia's Lower Zambezi National Park. See Lion Swims Zambezi River for an account of the first sighting.

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For more about lions and lion behavior, please see Lion Information and Lion Facts.

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