From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
A large cat, Panthera leo, native to Africa, India and formerly to much of Europe. The term may apply to the species as a whole, to individuals, or to male individuals. It also applies to related species like mountain lions.
The lion has been an icon for humanity for thousands of years, appearing in cultures across Europe, Asia, and Africa. Despite incidents of attacks on humans, lions have enjoyed a positive depiction in culture as strong but noble. A common depiction is their representation as "king of the jungle" or "king of the beasts"; hence, the lion has been a popular symbol of royalty and stateliness, as well as a symbol of bravery; it is featured in several fables of the sixth century BC Greek storyteller Aesop.