A single lion will often get a good bite on it's victim's throat, and crush the windpipe. Especially when killing large prey, one lion of a group will clamp it's mouth over it's victim's nose and mouth while the other lions hold it down. It is not unusual for the other lions to open the abdomen and begin eating while the animal is still being suffocated. In fact, this often kills the animal faster than the suffocation does. (Interestingly enough, the victim rarely struggles after it is brought down. This is probably due to the shock of being caught, and suggests that they may not be suffering as much as you might be led to beleive. Some people also believe that lions are capable of 'projecting a thought' into the prey to help it suffer less.) Sometimes, a large group of hungry lions will so completely immobilize an animal that they just simply tear it apart. Although it may seem that lions sometimes try to 'humanely' dispatch their prey, the real reason they like fast kills is that they can start eating sooner.
A variety of other techniques are occasionally used to make the kill. A well-placed swat with their massive paws can also instantly immobilize an aninimal by doing considerable internal damage. Very small prey is killed by simply biting through it. A more spectacular killing method, often seen on nature shows, involves leaping on the prey's back and biting the back of the neck. The big canine teeth slip between the vertabrae and break the spinal cord. Death is immediate. A few observers have recorded lions hooking their paws around the neck in such a way as to immobilize the head while flipping the body over. This breaks the neck, and kills the prey, although few if any broken necks have actually been observed.
As soon as the prey is dead, a single lion will often drag it's catch to a less open spot. The abdomen is opened, and the meal usually starts with the entrails. Lions vary widely in their tastes, which tend to vary on a region by region basis. Almost all lions eat the heart, liver and kidneys. Some lions will often then bury the stomach and intestines, but frequently just make an attempt at doing this. Why they do this is unknown. Other lions will eat everything in the body cavity except the stomach, showing a strong preference for the intestines. The meal then proceeds with the hindquarters, which is the fleshiest part of the animal. The lions will then work forwards towards the head. It is also unusual for lions to open the skull. Individuals in a group of lions feeding will go for whatever they can get their teeth into, with the strongest individuals getting the best morsels. If the pride male is present, he will often (but not always) hog the kill for himself, until he is sated. The females eat next, and then, the cubs. In some locales, the males prefer the flesh and will start eating the hindquarters of a fresh kill while the females fight over the entrails.
Lions have poor table manners and will often fight over their food. But, when it's all over, they will lick each others' wounds. Imagine getting wounded just trying to eat dinner!
Unlike most other cats, lions prefer to eat crouching or lying down.
Just because a lion suceeds in making a kill dosen't always mean it gets to eat it. Frequently, other predators, especially hyenas, will pester a lion to the point where he will abandon a kill to them. Smaller predators aren't as sucessful, but often grab scraps when the lion isn't looking. This works in reverse, too. Often one or more lions will scare another predator off of it's kill.
Lions are scavengers, too. They will eat most anything they find dead. For many old males too old to run down live game, scavenging may be their only way to find food.
A lion will gorge itself, if possible, on a kill. An adult will typically eat 40 pounds (18 Kg.) of meat at a time, with reports of as much as 75 pounds (34 Kg.) consumed in one sitting. A single lion may take two or more meals from a kill over a 2-3 day period, while prides usually cannot get more than one meal for everybody after an average kill. After eating a large meal, lions will sleep for as long as 24 hours (what a life!). A good, full meal for a pride may result in four days of little activity, and no great desire to hunt until the sixth day.
A lion can hold a posture that tells the prey animals around it that it is not hunting. The lion will then be able to pass by without causing much more than unusual caution.