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July 23, 2008

Superpower With a Heart

By: Bernard Chazelle

Those of you who've spent the last 30 years secluded in a Cistercian monastery may have missed this. Two guys buy a lion cub at Harrods (I didn't know they sold those), raise it for a year as a pet, and then release it in the jungle when it's too big. A year later, they meet again.

If you don't speak lionese, perhaps you're wondering what the lion said to his wife: "No, honey, this is not dessert."

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at July 23, 2008 08:29 PM

The look of recognition on the lion's face is uncanny.

Posted by: Seth at July 23, 2008 08:51 PM

I just kept staring --but I just felt a thrill inside of me, of real happiness. There is such genuine affection and love in the animal kingdom ( that includes us ), in the same species and between species, only if we will allow it to flourish. Thank you very much for this demonstration of what is POSSIBLE.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at July 23, 2008 10:39 PM

I looked at the video a few more times and Gosh! it is amazing. It seems like the lion is telling his firends,"Where have you been? I have missed you so much!". It is very emotional!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at July 23, 2008 10:51 PM

speaking of hearts, sarko and his gang have ended the mandatory 35hr work-week. whats your take on that?

Posted by: almostinfamous at July 23, 2008 11:37 PM

I hate to be a party pooper but this the kind of thing that should never happen. That lion is probably doomed thanks to those two schmucks. Without a healthy fear for a human with a gun that lion stands a good chance of being shot. They had no right to buy that lion or to raise it. I hope the novelty of owning a real live African lion was worth it.

Posted by: Rob Payne at July 24, 2008 12:30 AM

AI: the 35-hr work-week had become a joke (because of workarounds), and it's just sarko doing what he had promised to do. No surprise there. But I positively detest the vulgar con artist that he is. He epitomizes a certain French obnoxiousness that many foreign visitors, sooner or later, get to experience. The irony is that Chirac, as ineffectual a president as he was, was in person a rather nice man, while Sarko is a jerk.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at July 24, 2008 12:38 AM

Rob: Not sure I follow your logic. First, these two "schmucks" bought a lion that was for sale. Maybe Harrods should be blamed. Second, if the lion is killed by humans then a dozen zebras will get to live longer lives. Third, the shirtless guy in the video is actually the only creature who is dead today: killed by bandits. What I am saying has no punchline. I am not sure what is right and what is wrong. But to call these guys schmucks seems a bit overdone.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at July 24, 2008 12:48 AM

Bernard, this what I am thinking--

I don’t know how Harrods got the lion or even if that part of the story is true but yes Harrods had no business having a lion cub or selling it. There are parks in Africa with park rangers and wild life experts. That cub should have been turned over to them where it could have been properly returned to the wild where it belongs. The reason I call the two kids schmucks is it seems to me that what they really cared about was being in the fairly unique position of owning a lion, something I presume only the idle rich could afford to do. So they raise the lion and then when it gets too big for them to handle they set it loose to fend for itself and then come back in a year to see if it is still alive, nice. For the big cats the mother actually spends years training cubs to hunt, they are not born knowing how to hunt and kill. There are many aspects of this that I find bothersome not the least of which is the damage done by do-gooders who look at things through some kind of mushy Walt Disney way while doing great harm in the process.

Posted by: Rob Payne at July 24, 2008 01:20 AM

This one had me completely flummoxed. Jon might post something involving cute kittens and spiritual uplift, but from Bernard, I totally expected the lion to eat the guy. This made for very suspenseful viewing.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at July 24, 2008 07:40 AM

Sometimes I feel like those people who are born without pain receptors who have to be very careful not to hurt themselves. Guess I was born without an "oh, animals are just like us except they walk on all fours and eat raw meat" gene. Can't understand why anybody would find this heart-warming or even cute.

Posted by: Rosemary Molloy at July 24, 2008 07:43 AM

Harrods indeed sold exotic animals including lion cubs but they stopped the practice more than thirty years ago. Also, what is wrong with being rich (though I can not guess how much the cub was sold for)? There ARE rich individuals with a social conscience who do good for the society. And what if the lion cub was caged in the store and these guys could not bear to see it caged and decided to buy it so they could at least let the cub out and let it run free and take care of it till it was big enogh to take care of itself and then release it? "Imposed capitivity" is different from "Temporary care giving"!
I was at the San Diego Zoo and was sitting at an outdoor cafe having a drink. Right next to us was a little tree and there was this mother monkey with her 3 babies and they were playing exactly like a human mother and her babies. They were not in capitvity. It was an amazing sight, not to be forgotten.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at July 24, 2008 09:52 AM

The lion lived for many years after this footage was taken. Despite being born in captivity to parents raised in captivity, the lion successfully integrated himself into the wild, acquired some lioness companions, had cubs and fed the whole group. He was not doomed by his early conditioning.

Incidentally, the footage was filmed not one but four years after the lion had last seen his friends.

Posted by: Seth at July 24, 2008 10:51 AM

"oh, animals are just like us except they walk on all fours and eat raw meat" gene.

you're truly a mutant, then, and i hope you haven't reproduced.

Posted by: woody, tokin librul at July 24, 2008 02:05 PM

Many thanks for the link. What an incredible story!! Even more amazing that someone filmed it and put it up on the web for us to share in this wonderful experience! Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at July 24, 2008 03:53 PM

Thanks for the snopes link. I see the lion was turned over to someone who knew what they were doing in order to return the lion to the wild. However they are still schmucks.

Posted by: Rob Payne at July 24, 2008 05:43 PM

Rob: I see your point and I think you're probably right. Not sure what to think about zoos. What business do we have imprisoning animals? On the other hand, if not for zoos I would have never seen a tiger or a lion in my life...

Aaron: Your comment cracked me up!

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at July 24, 2008 07:07 PM

Zoos also act as conservation organizations, especially in situations where creatures have gone extinct (usually due to human intervention) in the wild. I don't think it's right animals should be caged for my viewing pleasure, but zoos aren't all bad.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at July 25, 2008 12:31 AM