Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 09/04/2012

Would I Li(on) to you**

I remember when yon lion was only knee high to a grasshopper, but look at ‘im now, he’s fair grown he has. It was, in fact, only last year, 25th February 2011 to be precise that he was measuring up against said insect though it was a month or so later when I first got photography the cute little cub – in the space of one year he’s looking more like an adult than ever, with the start of a mane showing… sniff… he’ll be shaving next, and wanting to borrow the car to take girls out to the cinema in. Despite his size, and he is big, I did have a bit of a Crocodile Dundee moment with him during my visit to Bristol Zoo; I revisited their enclosure around 2pm to find a Keeper standing by the side of the enclosure unlocking the door that separates to different parts of their outdoor environment. The fully grown male Asiatic Lion (and the Asiatic ones are the biggest) was “eye-balling” the keeper through the glass that separated the two until it was just too much for him, and then he raced at the class, up on his hind feet and started to paw at the glass that distanced man from beast. As you can appreciate the air was fairly charged, and the tension didn’t dissipate when, with the dividing wall removed, the two young (ish) cubs and mother, ran in to where Daddy Lion had been sitting knorring on rack of ribs (sadly missing the BBQ sauce). The young were keen to sample this already chewed over morsel of food but of course the adult male was having none of it, and would show them who was boss if and when any of the got too close. This young male then started to skulk closer to the front of the enclosure where I and many other onlookers were standing, and looked directly at me (not around the eyes, directly into my eyes*) – I decided, rather stupidly, to see what would happened in the circumstances if I were to return and hold the creature’s gaze. With adrenaline already coursing through the beast’s body, the two remaining emotions of fight or flight would occur as was my reasoning – for what seemed like an eternity, the Lion looked directly into my eyes and I wondered who would break first and whether I’d be having a much more up close and personal view of the big cat than I had already had. Amazingly, the creature already in submissive mode with his Dad realised that other Dads aren’t to be trifled with (any other desserts may be used instead) and slunk off to the back of the cage in rather a hurry. Man 1… Lion 0. I think I’ll leave my win and retire from such contests, I certainly don’t fancy my chances in a return match.

*I am not, nor ever will be a fan of the TV show “Little Britain” but I am aware of it and its numerous catch phrases.

** Charles and Eddie – who? Precisely!


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