No, not Ben & Bebe! Oh my goodness, am I dating myself here! Is there anyone out there who still remembers Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels? Anyway, back to the lions. It’s rarely that I’ve ever had such a good opportunity to photograph the big cats at any of the zoos that I’ve visited, and I’ve been to quite a few over the years.
Last week I timed my visit to Brookfield Zoo perfectly. The weather was pleasant without being too hot and the animals were fairly active. The lions, although not exactly leaping about, were at least visible.
There seemed to be a large number of children at the zoo that day, mostly on school field trips and, kids being kids, they weren’t content with watching the lions just laying about. They wanted action! They roared and screamed (the kids, not the lions) in an effort to induce the king of the jungle to get with the program.
The lion merely looked bored out of its skull and I could imagine a George Sanders-like voice a la Shere Khan in The Jungle Book drawling “Oh please,” while it lazily stropped it’s claws on a nearby rock.
There was a moment when things did get quite interesting. The female had secured herself a sizeable hunk of meat and prudently dragged it off to the other side of the enclosure. The male, trying to appear nonchalant, began to sidle over towards her.
She immediately dropped what she was doing and took a few steps towards him with a look that said “Well, do you feel lucky, punk??” He, probably feeling nothing ventured, nothing gained, took one more hesitant step. But you could see he didn’t give much for his chances and he was right. Mrs. Lion covered the ground between them in a flash and let him have it, pushing him away with her huge paws.
And just like that, the confrontation was over. The lioness went back to her lunch and the male, realizing that he’d met his match, slunk back to the safety of his ledge among the rocks. The fathers in the crowd, poor devils, groaned in sympathy while the mothers pumped their fists and gave each other high fives.