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Lion Cost: How Much Is a Lion?

Lions cost between $600 and $15,000, but rare white lions may cost upwards of $100,000. These prices are generally for lion cubs as adolescent lions are even more expensive. On top of the purchase cost, there are a lot of other necessary expenses, such as housing, food, and veterinary care.

There’s no denying that a lot of people find lions fascinating, longing to keep them as pets. But exotic pets like big cats can be expensive.

Lions are wild predators and they aren’t generally fit as pets. They are dangerous and it’s unnatural for them to live in captivity.

But if you were to buy one, how much would a lion cost? Is their food expensive? Are they easy to maintain?

We’ll answer these questions and provide you with more helpful information about lions and the expenses involved in keeping them.

How Much Is a Lion?

You can get a lion cub for as little as $600 or as much as $15,000. Purchasing a lion can be more or less expensive depending on the breed and the animal’s age. Younger lions are typically cheaper, and rare types of lions can cost upwards of $100,000.

Due to their majestic nature, a lot of people are fascinated with keeping a pet lion. But lions aren’t tame or domesticated animals. It’s unnatural for them to live in captivity.

Lions are also dangerous as pets. On top of that, there are many expenses that one has to cover after buying a lion:

  • Housing
  • Permits, insurance, and other documents
  • Food and other recurring costs
  • Veterinary care

All in all, the cost of a lion will add up to hundreds of thousands over its lifetime.

how much does a lion cost

One-Time Costs for Lions

There are many one-time costs that have to be covered when acquiring a lion. Besides the purchase cost of the animal itself, other expenses are required. Lions need to have proper shelter and a secure enclosure. They also require special paperwork and you will most certainly want to ensure your exotic “pet”.

When keeping a lion there are many one-time costs that may need to be covered before actually keeping the animal itself:

  1. Housing
  2. Permits and Insurance
  3. Purchase

1. Housing

Lion Housing

Housing lions is a difficult endeavor. They are high-maintenance animals and require a lot of space and a well-planned design to be healthy. 

A lion enclosure requires land, fencing, cages, indoor areas with multiple entrances, and much more.

Space is very important for lions. In the wild, they have wide ranges to roam. Ample space to walk is important for their health. If they don’t have the necessary space they will pace around whatever space they’ve got.[1]


To build a lion enclosure, you’re gonna need a lot of land. If you don’t already own enough, your best option would be to buy some. 

The price of land depends on your state or country:

Area:1 acre1 acre1 acre

These are the values for land in 2018 estimated by the USDA.[2]

Enclosure and Shelter

Lion enclosures play a big part in their health and happiness. You will need different types of enclosures and shelters for different situations. 

Cubs will also need to be kept separate from adults.

The ideal enclosure is a large area of land made to mimic a lion’s natural habitat as much as possible. A good enclosure is large and has a great degree of complexity:

  • Grasses and shrubs
  • Some trees
  • Logs and deadwood
  • Mounds and small hills
  • Rocks and boulders
  • Some water

Besides the usual enclosure, lions also need indoor spaces in certain climates. Holding and shifting areas are necessary to move the animals during maintenance. Separate spaces also have to be created for lion cubs and females with young cubs.[3]

Small areas and cages that leave the animals little room should also be incorporated into the overall design. This helps with some veterinary procedures as lions don’t need to be put under anesthesia.

Being placed in restraint cases is less stressful for lions than being anesthetized with darts or pole syringes from afar.

Enclosure TypeArea
OutdoorsMinimum 10,000 sq ft
IndoorsMinimum 2,000 sq ft
Holding or Shifting500-600 sq ft
Birthing Dens30 sq ft
Restraint and TransferEnough to isolate a lion

2. Permits and Insurance

Lion Permits and Insurance

Depending on the state and country there are different requirements for keeping lions. Some states are more permissive than others, and you may not need any permit at all.

There are no regulations on the ownership of big cats like lions in Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. In other states, ownership may be completely prohibited or additional permits may be required.[4]

Check your state’s laws and regulations before making a decision.

The necessary paperwork can cost hundreds of dollars. Permit and insurance costs are different from state to state. 

Liability insurance alone can cost anything between $1,000 and $15,000 a year.

3. Purchase

Lion Cubs Size

The price of purchasing a lion varies a lot. It changes according to the type of lion and its age, with cubs and young lions being generally cheaper than adults.

Some lion cubs cost as little as $600, while others set you back up to $15,000. The price of a lion cub is around $2,500 on average.[5]

Rare types, like the mesmerizing white lion, can cost upwards of $100,000.

Monthly Cost of Owning a Lion

Lions can cost thousands of dollars a month to keep happy and healthy. Their food alone can cost thousands of dollars a month. Besides food, you need a clean environment and regular veterinary care.

Keeping lions requires ample financial means. Owning your own big cat is expensive, and after purchasing the animal there is still stuff that needs to be taken care of:

  • Heating: Especially in colder climates. Mandatory for lion cubs.
  • Food: Milk formula for young cubs. Quality meat for adult lions, between 11 and 15 pounds a day.
  • Veterinary care: Lions need shots and other medication to keep them healthy.
  • Enclosure maintenance: A lion’s enclosure needs to be in top shape. Repairs and improvements are done as needed.
  • Transport: Lions may need to be moved. Transport for a large dangerous animal can be expensive.

Lion Food

Lions are carnivores. They need meat to survive and stay healthy. In captivity, they must be fed a variety of high-quality meats. Feeding them cheap and unvaried meats is detrimental to their health.

Both lions and lionesses eat an impressive amount of food. On average, a male eats about 15 pounds daily, while a smaller female about 11 pounds. Larger lions may need more food.[6]

They don’t need to eat daily and in the wild, they generally gorge themselves every couple of days.

Feeding a lion is expensive. The average price of beef roasts in 2022 is around $6,8. This means that even a lioness could consume about $2,200 of food monthly.[7]

A lion’s diet has to be varied so the price may vary a lot. Buying meats in bulk may also lower the price somewhat. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that feeding a lion would cost any less than $1,500 monthly.

Lion Food

Why Are Lions So Expensive?

Lions are expensive because they require a lot of care. They need special enclosures built for them and they eat enormous amounts of meat. They are also exotic animals and can be quite expensive to purchase.

Any large exotic animal is going to be expensive. They require a lot of care and attention. They need special enclosures to keep them safe and happy, and to keep the outside world safe from them.

They also eat huge amounts of meat. Male lions can eat about 15 pounds of meat daily. Their food has to be high quality and varied.

Yearly Cost of Having a Lion

This is a tame estimate of the yearly cost of keeping a lion:

Permits and Insurance:$1,200
Enclosure Maintenance:$2,500
Food and Water:$24,000
Veterinary Care:$500

This small cost may be achievable if you already have a lion enclosure built, if the lion doesn’t run into any issues, and you can get most of the necessities at a decent price.


The price of owning a lion is about $30,000 within the first year. This is assuming you manage to solve problems like housing beforehand. Keeping this dangerous feline is expensive. They are exceedingly high-maintenance animals and they require a lot of resources to keep happy and healthy. The cost of buying a lion itself isn’t the worst part, although that costs about $2,500 on average.

About Codrin Frunzete

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