Zoo Adventures with Debra Holt
Monday, May 8, 2017Here’s one of my zoo animal stories to begin the week with…
One day, the zoo director asked me to attend a noonday luncheon of the Lions Club in a nearby town. He thought it would be a good idea to tell them about the work being done in Education at the zoo. It wouldn’t hurt also if I managed a plug for the new endowment program we had begun in order to build a new African diorama at the zoo. I agreed. I agreed because it meant I could get my hands on another animal and that was what I lived to do at the zoo. I put my thinking cap on.
The day dawned and off I went after collecting my traveling companion. What better animal to take with me to the Lions Club luncheon meeting than a REAL lion? Sir Lancelot, was all of three months old and as precocious and adorable as ever. With him in his usual traveling spot in my car… draped in the sunshine in the back window … we set off. Have any idea how many people would drive up next to me, roll down the windows and gesture wildly to me… to inform me, “You have a lion in your car!” or “Is that real?” I would smile and nod and thank them for letting me know.
When we arrived, I was told to wait at the back entrance. It was a lovely spring day. Lance was all bathed and regal looking. I had him on his leash and, as any child will do once all nice and clean, he wanted to roll and tumble in the taller grasses. I liked to think he was playing out an adventure on the vast plains, stalking a prey, hidden in the grasses… what fun he was having! Then it all changed.
Around the corner, came a racing bit of fur… a white, fluffy poodle complete with bright pink ear bows, and glitter polish on her nails. Lance froze in a crouch. I thought, ‘this could get interesting.’ The dog came to a screeching halt. I smiled. Then I looked for Lance. No longer in the tall grass… he was crouching behind me… in fear. Peeking around my legs at the yapping intruder. My first reaction was to look around us… had anyone seen this yet? No. Good! I went to eye-level with Lance. Hands on his cheeks, I made eye contact. “You are the king of beasts! Act like it. This would be an appetizer in the real African world of yours. Show it who the king is around here!” He was having none of it. I stomped my foot and the dog ran off.
I sat next to my furry baby I had raised since the hour he was born. I couldn’t fault him. He did not know Africa or that he was a member of royalty. I shared stories with him of lions and how he would be a handsome king one day, like his father, Captain. He listened in rapt attention. Until a butterfly flew by and he became fascinated in it and not me. I sighed.
The doors opened and it was our time. Taking a deep breath, I walked in the doorway and immediately the sixty or so human Lions began pushing chairs back and all eyes frozen on my companion. I looked down and there was a prince-in-training. He walked with that lion-swagger, his eyes glittered with golden fierceness as he viewed the lesser mortal humans. And in a bound, he was on top of the long meeting table, taking the ‘cat-walk’ to a whole new level. And I walked beside him, a mother’s pride swelling my heart. Just as a human child can sometimes disappoint and you might think they just aren’t listening to you, they do something that proves they were after all and everything would be okay.
Sir Lancelot and I had other adventures, and they will come another day….