Lion babies! They’re born cute and cuddly and grow up into apex predators that rule savannas. Let’s dig into five facts about lion cubs when they’re at their most cute and cuddly.

1. Lions are pregnant for three to four months and can have a litter of anywhere from two to six cubs!

The gestation period of lions is in line with other big cats. While lion gestation periods are about 110 days, other big cats are slightly shorter. For example, mountain lions’ average gestation period is about 92 days while cheetahs rarely exceed 95 days. Lions have about the same gestation period as tigers. Still, the lion gestation period (110 days) is less than 40% of a human’s average gestation period (280 days).

2. There is a place in Africa where lions live alone (instead of prides) and lion cubs must learn to hunt an antelope by 3 months of age!

Lions hunt in groups called prides, right? Well, normally that’s correct. But there is a single place on Earth where lions hunt alone, and lion cubs must become independent at an extremely young age! In Kenya’s Samburu National Park desert conditions make prey much more sparse. Lions have adapted to the habitat by living solitary lives instead of in prides. In this environment lions can’t stay babies for long! Lion cubs in Samuru can bring down small antelopes by the time they’re only 3 months old!

3. A U.S. President Had Two Lions Cubs as Pets!

Believe it or not, but a U.S. President once kept a pet that wasn’t a cat or a dog. Instead he had two lion cubs! Calvin Coolidge was President of the United States from 1923 to 1929. While president, the mayor of the South African city of Johannesburg gifted Coolidge a pair of twin lions. Now, you might think a lion name like “Simba” or “Scar” would fit a pet lion, but Coolidge went in the opposite direction. He named his twin lions “Tax Reduction” and “Budget Bureau.” Let me assure you, Coolidge was not a lot of fun at parties. In addition to twin lions, Coolidge also kept a White House raccoon, a brown bear named Bruno, a wallaby that was moved to the National Zoo, a duiker (small antelope from Africa), and thirteen Pekin ducks.

4. It’s a tough life being a baby lion!

80% of all lion cubs die before reaching two years of age. At that age, they become skilled enough hunter to become self-sufficient. Why is being a lion cub so tough? For one, competition for food is tough. Another factor is that when a male lion becomes the alpha of a pride, they will kill lion cubs that are not their own and aged two years or younger. In total, male lions have it the roughest. Only about 1 in 8 (12%) will reach adulthood.

5. Lion cubs are born with spots and blue eyes, but they lose both when they become adults

Lion babies have a much different appearance than older lions. For one, their eyes at birth are blue, but as they age their eye color will turn to brown. Also, baby lions have “rosettes” or spots similar to a leopard. However, once the lion reachers adulthood the spots will fade away leaving a more uniform coat. While lion cubs on average weigh just 3 pounds and grow to reach in excess of 250 pounds (females are closer to 280 while males reach beyond 400 pounds), their appearance changes much more than growing.