I don’t know.”
As I walked across the tarmac into a waiting car, this seemed like the easiest question I’d ever faced in my life. How could there be anything else but a lion? But what I didn’t realise is that everyone who comes to the zoo is a lion – and that is why they know who a lion is. (It sounds silly, and the other answers are equally obvious, but to a new member of the family it really makes a difference.) If a lion makes love to his wife and kids, he is still a lion, even if he has lost the sex hormone, testosterone. But for a lion to kill a person and his family and then flee into the forest to hide away – that is a special kind of killing. And it is an act that can only be performed by a male. I had to come to terms with the fact that all lions and their offspring are male.
I remember standing alongside a lion and a lioness, holding a sign that read “Don’t Call This Lion ‘Baby'” I remember wondering what all the fuss was about. I couldn’t see how anyone could possibly see an 8-month-old or a 2-year-old and conclude that they were women. They looked like the very animals that are at risk of extinction. I had just come from an exhibition on lions and tigers at one of the leading zoos. The place was full of white faces. I noticed that the only white faces I saw there were on the white walls of its lion exhibits.
I’m not sure what has gone wrong with this country. On the day we visited, it had just been revealed that a lion had eaten the heads off a group of people. That was horrible enough, but then I saw another animal at the zoo, a zebra and a giraffe. And then in a museum, a tiger. And then, as if on cue from those people on the zoo wall in a state of shock and dismay, this lion. In all four cases there was a child in the front row. All four were adults, and all four had no idea that they were in a zoo. When they saw the lion they all cried and screamed. All four of them had been slaughtered by a lion, just for the joy of looking at a lion. As I sat on the plane back to the UK I realized that not once did I even consider that in the days of my childhood I might have been killed with a lion, and had never even imagined
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