Lion cub / mother association.
There is a close bond between lion cubs and their mother and touch is an important facet of this association. The female is generally very patient and accommodating towards the young cubs that can, at times, make a nuisance of themselves, with far more energy than what mom usually has. In these images we see the mother sleeping (or rather trying to) but in such a position which makes it easy for the young to suckle.
The young will suckle regularly for 6 – 7 months and then are gradually weaned. A female will leave the pride to give birth to young and will only return to the pride with the young cubs when they are 4 – 8 weeks old. Because a lactating female will allow any young lions to suckle her she will be reluctant to rejoin a pride if there are other cubs younger than three months old who will compete with her own offspring for her milk so reducing her own cubs chances of survival. The lower images also illustrate how important touch is to lions. Researchers have established that young lion will stay with the mother for between 21 – 30 months.