As in our world, the lions are a brownish-gold colour, and the males are easily recognized for the mane of fur around their neck, which the females, called lionesses, lack. Young lions are generally called cubs.
The lion is a muscular, deep-chested cat with a short, rounded head, a reduced neck and round ears. The colour of its fur varies from light buff to silverly gray, to yellowish red and dark brown. The underparts are generally lighter, and cubs are born with dark spots on their bodies. The spots fade as lions reach adulthood, although faint spots often may still be seen on the legs and underparts. Males are more robust than females, have broader heads and a prominent mane that covers most of the head, neck, shoulders and chest. The mane is typically brownish and tinged with yellow, rust and black hairs.
The most distinctive characteristic shared by both females and males is that their tail ends in a dark, hairy tuft, which the lion is the only cat to have. In some lions, the tuft conceals a hard "spine" or "spur", approximately 5 mm long, formed of the final sections of tail bone fused together.
Aslan, the ruler and creator over all Narnia, takes the form of a lion, and thus all lions in Narnia are treated with special respect.
There are no specifically named lions, though there was one that was a stone prisoner in the courtyard of Jadis the White Witch, which Edmund Pevensie first mistook for Aslan and used a stump of lead pencil to draw a comical face upon it.
That lion was restored to life by Aslan, when he went to the White Witch's Castle to find more soldiers to take to the First Battle of Beruna. The lion was a little arrogant at first; for when Aslan restored him, he went around pretending to be busy, when really he was going around saying: -
- "Did you hear what he said? Us lions. That means him and me. Us lions. That's what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand-off-ishness."
- ―Unnamed lion (Chapter 16) [src]
The character of the lion in the Witch's courtyard was depicted as a lioness, although the book clearly stated it was a he. She had no spoken lines.
When Edmund first arrived at the Witch's castle, he used a bit of black char to draw a comical face upon the lioness. The char remained on the beast even after she was restored to life, as seen at the Pevensies' coronation.
- Lion in the White Witch's Courtyard
- Despite being only the second largest cats in the world, lions are often referred to as 'The King of Beasts'.
- The African Maasai tribes treated hunting lions as a rite of a passage, including a most sacred ceremony that symbolized becoming an adult warrior.
- The lion in the Witch's Courtyard was never mentioned in the BBC version, and was portrayed as a lioness in the LWW film, but did make an appearance in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (animated) film, though he had no spoken lines.