29 Animals that Are Leaders (A to Z List with Pictures)

Animals that Are Leaders

Examples of animals that are leaders include ants, baboons, bees, crows, and wolves.

Animals that live in packs often form leadership groups in order to be more effective at hunting and to run an organized social hierarchy. For example, wolves will select an alpha wolf to lead the pack, but also have a clearly defined wolf pack hierarchy.

We will showcase 29 different animal species that have natural-born leaders as part of their animal hierarchies. From incredibly smart primates to fearless lionesses, these creatures have demonstrated their ability to take charge when necessary and guide their fellow animals to success.

Examples of Animals that Are Leaders

1. Ants

Scientific NameFormicidae
Type of AnimalInsect

Ants are one of the most industrious animals on the planet, constantly working to ensure the success and well-being of their colony. Queen ants make excellent leaders due to their smart decision-making skills, strong work ethic, and ability to communicate effectively with their fellow ants. Ant colonies can survive for years and even thrive under the leadership of an effective ant queen.

2. Baboons

Scientific NamePapio
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica or Arabia

Baboons are one of the most intelligent and highly social animals in the animal kingdom. These highly adaptable creatures live in large groups called “troops”, led by a single dominant male who acts as their leader. Baboons are excellent problem-solvers, displaying remarkable intelligence when it comes to foraging for food or avoiding predators.

3. Bees

Scientific NameAnthophila
Type of AnimalInsect
Rangeevery continent except Antarctica

Bees are well-known for their organizational skills and their ability to work together as a team. Their hive is led by a queen bee, who is responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the population. The worker bees are tasked with gathering food, building the honeycomb, and protecting the hive.

Bees have an incredibly complex social structure that includes different types of communication, such as dance and pheromones. This allows them to share information about food sources, warn each other about danger, and support one another in their everyday tasks.

4. Bonobos

Scientific NamePan paniscus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangethe Democratic Republic of Congo

Bonobos are highly intelligent primates that are known for their ability to lead and guide other members of their group. They are excellent problem-solvers and use a combination of vocalizations, gestures, and facial expressions to communicate with one another. This allows them to effectively coordinate and cooperate with each other, making them strong leaders in their social groups.

Related Article: Do Bonobos Laugh?

5. Chimpanzees

Scientific NamePan troglodytes
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeCongo River to western Uganda and western Tanzania

One of the smartest animals in the world, chimpanzees are excellent leaders that have been observed guiding their troops through difficult terrain and helping others when they get stuck. They are very protective of their young, leading other members of their group to help mothers find food or watch over babies while they rest.

6. Crows

Scientific NameCorvus
Type of AnimalBird

Crows are one of the smartest animals in the animal kingdom, with their incredible problem-solving abilities and advanced communication skills. They are natural-born leaders, able to guide their flock through difficult situations and ensure that everyone stays safe. Whether they are working together to defend against predators or find food sources during a harsh winter, crows are always working to help their community.

Read Also: Can Crows be Rude?

7. Deer

Scientific NameCervidae
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeall continents except Australia and Antarctica

The herd leader is typically the oldest and most experienced doe in the group. She will provide guidance to the other members of the herd, helping them to find food and water during tough times. The leader doe will also protect the group from predators and keep them safe from danger.

8. Dogs

Scientific NameCanis lupus familiaris
Type of AnimalMammal

Dogs are known for being loyal, obedient, and loving companions. But did you know that they can also make great leaders? Dogs are pack animals by nature, which means they are instinctively inclined to follow a leader. In the wild, dogs will typically follow the lead of the alpha male or female, the animal that is considered to be the leader of the pack.

While domestic dogs may not live in packs like their wild counterparts, they still have a natural tendency to follow a leader. This makes them ideal candidates for leadership roles in various settings, such as military and law enforcement work, assistance programs, and even therapy.

Related Article: Are Dogs Loyal?

9. Dolphins

Scientific NameCetacea
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeworld’s oceans

Dolphins are known for their intelligence and sociable nature, making them excellent leaders among aquatic animals. They are capable of forming complex alliances with other dolphins in order to achieve shared goals, and they are often able to understand the intentions of humans around them as well. Because of their ability to work cooperatively with others, dolphins are often seen as natural-born leaders in the animal kingdom.

Related Article: Do Dolphin Eat Crabs?

10. Elephant

Scientific NameLoxodonta
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica and Asia

Elephants are very intelligent animals, and they often display leadership qualities that allow them to take on a leadership role within their herds. These powerful creatures are able to lead their families through difficult terrain, taking charge during challenging situations and ensuring the safety of all members. In addition, elephants are highly protective of their young, acting as natural-born caregivers and leaders.

Related Article: Do Elephants Talk?

11. Giraffes

Scientific NameGiraffa
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesub-Saharan Africa

Giraffes are among the most recognizable and beloved animals in the world, thanks to their long necks and distinctive patterns. But these elegant creatures are also natural-born leaders, able to lead their herds through difficult terrain and protect them from potential threats. With their keen eyesight and excellent communication skills, giraffes make excellent leaders for their herds.

Related Article: 10 Giraffe Personality Traits

12. Gorilla

Scientific NameGorilla
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeequatorial Africa

The gorilla is one of the largest and strongest primates in existence, and their impressive size often intimidates would-be challengers. Male gorillas are called silverbacks because of the distinctive patch of silver hair that grows on their backs as they age. A silverback gorilla is typically the leader of a group, or troop, of gorillas, and he is responsible for the safety of all members.

Read Also: 23 Examples of Big-Headed Animals

13. Hyenas

Scientific NameHyaenidae
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorth and northeast Africa

Hyenas are one of the most well-known examples of animals that have proven themselves as natural leaders. These powerful creatures are highly intelligent and extremely resourceful, making them an ideal choice to guide their packs or herds through difficult situations. They are also incredibly fierce and fearless, standing up for their comrades when necessary and fighting fiercely to protect them.

14. Killer Whales

Scientific NameOrcinus orca
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeall oceans

Killer whales, or orcas, are one of the most intelligent animals on Earth. They live in pods, or families, that can consist of up to 40 members. These pods have a strict social hierarchy, with a matriarch at the top. The matriarch is usually the oldest and most experienced female in the group.

Killer whales are also known for being very adaptable and innovative animals. They have been observed using tools to hunt prey, working together to trap their food, and even adopting lost or abandoned calves from other pods. All of these qualities make killer whales excellent leaders within their communities.

Related Article: 10 Dolphin Adaptations

15. Lemurs

Scientific NameLemuroidea
Type of AnimalMammal

The ring-tailed lemur is the most common type of lemur, and they are found on the island of Madagascar. Lemurs are very social creatures, living in groups of up to 30 individuals.

While there is no formal hierarchy within a lemur group, certain members will often take on leadership roles. For example, older and larger females will often lead the way when it comes to finding food, and younger animals may follow their lead.

Lemurs are very intelligent creatures, capable of learning new behaviors and exhibiting complex social structures. This intelligence makes them excellent natural-born leaders, able to navigate challenging situations and help others in their group do the same.

Related Article: 35 Animals that Look Like Lemurs

16. Lions

Scientific NamePanthera leo
Type of AnimalMammal

Lions are one of the most feared animals in the world and for good reason. These massive cats are the largest members of the cat family, with males weighing in at an average of 420 pounds and females around 280 pounds. But it’s not just their size that makes them such a formidable force; lions are also incredibly strong and fast, able to reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour in short bursts.

In the wild, lions live in large groups known as pride. A pride typically consists of around 15 members, including several females and their cubs, as well as a few adult males. The pride functions as a family unit, with all members working together to protect the group and raise the cubs.

Related Article: 11 Lion Adaptation

17. Meerkat

Scientific NameSuricata suricatta
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeSouth Africa

One of the most well-known examples of an animal that is a natural leader is the meerkat. Meerkats are highly social creatures, living in large groups called mobs where they take on specific roles to ensure the survival and wellbeing of their group. These animals are incredibly smart and astute, able to observe and analyze their surroundings and make quick decisions in order to keep their mob safe.

As the leader of a meerkat mob, it is up to the alpha male or female to make all of the important decisions for the group. They will be responsible for things like choosing where the mob sleeps, what they eat, and when they move to a new location.

18. Mole Rats

Scientific NameHeterocephalus glaber
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeeastern Africa

Mole rats are small mammals that live in underground burrows, often with hundreds of other mole rats. While they may not look like natural leaders at first glance, these creatures have some very impressive skills.

Related Article: Do Rats Eat Pineapples?

19. Monkfish

Scientific NameLophius
Type of AnimalFish
RangeNorthwest Atlantic Ocean

The monkfish is a type of fish that is known for its large size and long tail. These fish are found in the Atlantic Ocean and can grow to be over three feet long. Monkfish are predators and typically hunt smaller fish, squid, and crustaceans.

Despite their intimidating appearance, monkfish are actually quite shy creatures. They generally stay close to the bottom of the ocean and only come out to hunt at night.

20. Octopus

Scientific NameOctopoda
Type of AnimalMollusk

The Octopus is a leader in the animal kingdom due to its high level of intelligence. This cephalopod is able to solve complex problems and navigate its way through complicated environments.

The octopus is also known for its ability to change colors, which it uses for both camouflage and communication. When an octopus needs to send a signal to its fellow octopuses, it can change the color of its skin in order to indicate that something is amiss or that a threat is nearby. This intelligence and adaptability make the octopus an excellent leader among marine creatures.

Related Article: 10 Octopus Adaptations

21. Parrots

Scientific NamePsittaciformes
Type of AnimalBird
Rangeall over most of the world

These birds are not only incredibly smart but they have also been known to take on leadership roles in their flocks. One famous example is a parrot named African Grey, who was the leader of his flock for many years. He was known for his ability to communicate with other members of his flock and lead them to safety during times of danger.

Related Article: What Eats Parrots?

22. Penguins

Scientific NameSpheniscidae
Type of AnimalBird

Penguins are one of the few animals that have a clear social hierarchy, with a leader at the top. The penguin colony will elect a new leader every year, and this leader will be responsible for guiding the other penguins and keeping them safe.

Leadership in penguins is incredibly important because these creatures live in some of the harshest environments on Earth. Their leader must be able to find food and shelter for the entire colony, and they must also be able to defend themselves from predators.

Related Article: 15 Birds that Look Like Penguins

23. Prairie Dogs

Scientific NameCynomys
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeGreat Plains east of the Rocky Mountains

Prairie dogs are small rodents that live in the grasslands of North America. These highly social animals live in large colonies, with a clear hierarchy among the different members. Prairie dogs are well known for their ability to communicate with each other through a complex system of barks, chirps, and whistles.

24. Raccoons

Scientific NameProcyon lotor
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America

Although they are not the largest or most powerful animals on this list, raccoons have proven to be effective leaders. These clever creatures are known for their resourcefulness and intelligence, both of which come in handy when leading a group. Raccoons are also relatively social animals, living in groups called “bands” that can include up to 20 individuals.

25. Rats

Scientific NameRattus
Type of AnimalMammal

Rats are often considered to be pests, but they are actually very intelligent and capable creatures. They are excellent problem-solvers and have superb memory skills. rats have also been shown to be very good at following instructions from their leader.

26. Red Foxes

Scientific NameVulpes vulpes
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeThe United States from Alaska to Florida

Though they might not be the biggest predators in the forest, red foxes are incredibly cunning and resourceful animals. They are also very social creatures, living in large families with strict hierarchies. The family is led by the alpha male and female, who make all of the decisions for the group.

27. Sea Otters

Scientific NameEnhydra lutris
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAlaska, British Columbia, and Washington

Sea otters are interesting creatures in many ways. They are the only mammal that hunts primarily with tools, they have the densest fur of any animal on Earth, and they live in some of the coldest waters on the planet. But perhaps most notably, sea otters demonstrate a level of cooperation and teamwork that is rarely seen outside of humans.

Related Article: What Eats Otters?

28. Wildebeest

Scientific NameConnochaetes
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesoutheastern Africa

The wildebeest is a large, gnu-like antelope that can be found roaming the plains of Africa. These animals are well-known for their annual migration, which sees them travel hundreds of miles in search of new grazing grounds.

While the journey is fraught with danger, with many wildebeest falling prey to predators or succumbing to exhaustion, the herd is led by a brave and experienced individual who knows the way to safety.

29. Zebra

Scientific NameEquus quagga
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangeeast and southern Africa

Zebras are social animals that live in herds led by a single stallion. The zebras follow the lead of the stallion and look to him for guidance on where to graze and when to move. The herd follows the stallion because he is the strongest and most experienced member, and he will protect them from predators.

Related Article: What Eats Zebras?


There are many different types of leaders in the animal kingdom. Some lead by example, while others use force or intimidation. No matter what their methods, these animals provide valuable insights into how to become a successful leaders.

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