Evaluation of activity budgets provides an indication of whether captive history has influenced the daily behaviour of animals within an ex situ reintroduction program. We conducted the first study to compare activity budgets of prides of captive-origin African lions (Panthera leo) to a wild pride investigated under the same methodologies. Behavioural data were collected via direct observations of individual lions. The vegetation type in which each pride was located was recorded at the beginning and end of each observation session. Behaviours were analysed via linear mixed models, using restricted maximum-likelihood analysis. Age, sex, origin, time observed and vegetation type were fitted as fixed factors to assess the main effects of significant interactions, while average temperature was fitted as a covariate. Resting and alert behaviours were found to vary at sex and age levels, with expected peaks and lows coinciding with observation session times. Captive-origin prides showed a decrease in resting and increase in alert and movement behaviours post-1700 hours, while this behavioural change was not observed for the wild prides. Males of the wild prides were observed to rest more than captive-origin counterparts, while this variation was not observed for females across origins. Vegetation was found to influence behaviour, with cubs being more alert and active in riverbed vegetation, and adults and sub-adults in shrubland. Overall, all prides were observed to exhibit behaviours at natural levels. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of the daily activity of lions critical to the pre-release evaluation of prides within an ex situ reintroduction program.