An Intimate Moment With A Lion

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
First thing in the morning; like really, really early in the morning, Rob likes to read the news on the internet. He has to travel to Rotorua for his work so he has to leave early, and I can't help but squint and blink frantically in the dark at the glare of the computer screen, as I am woken from my sleep. I am one of those people that wakes at the slightest sound. Don't ever try breaking into my house at night, because I will be waiting behind the door with a frying pan. I kid you not!

So this morning I see a photo on the DailyMail, which is Rob's daily haunt for international news - after the NZ Herald and The Press, of course. (He's a news stalker).

"That's in Christchurch," I said, pointing at the photo of people in a caged truck surrounded by lions. The headline reads, "The Zoo Where The HUMANS Are Kept Behind Bars".

And sure enough, the article was about our very own Orana Wildlife Park.

Has it really taken this long for the world to hear about this experience with the lions? Where you get to go inside a caged truck and feed the lions as they clamber up and on top and around the truck. You could reach out your little hand and touch that beautiful, thick, lush hair ... only I don't think it would be a good idea.

The Orana Park encounter with the lions has been running for so long, I forget how old I was when I first heard about it, and even as a child I thought it would be pretty amazing.

But I have never done it, and on the last time I went to Orana Park with the children and a friend, we watched as a cage full of humans drove into the enclosure. We had stopped in the shade of some trees by the fence very close to where the lions were feeding. So close in fact that it was almost as good as being in the truck.

I had a zoom lens on my Canon, but not a very strong one, so we were very close to the lions and all that was separating us from them was the chicken-wire fence. Hopefully, very strong chicken-wire fence.

The children were really excited to be so close to real lions!

But with my four children, and my friend's four children and a couple of cousins all lined up against the trees, watching the lions, we noticed that one of them became a little interested in our little group, and she began prowling up and down the fenceline, never taking her eyes off us.

Slowing walking, delicately placing her thick padded paws down deliberately with each step, she paced up and down. And then she began to pick up the pace, almost jogging. And never taking her eyes off us.
I actually started to feel really nervous and the fence started to look really flimsy (I'm sure it's not), but it was a feeling of being stalked. Hunted.

Of knowing that she was stronger than me. And we were food.

"I think we should go see the farmyard now, don't you?" I said to my friend. Give me sheep and chickens and ducks and ponies. Please!
My heart was actually thumping as we moved away.

I still love lions. I so want to throw my arms around their necks and bury my face in their coat - they look so soft and like you could just lose yourself in there, but I don't really have any desire to go in the human cage. My imagination is too overactive to allow me to do that. And we had our moment with that lion.
Yes, we did!

1 comment :

Betty Luckhurst said...

I'm surprise Hubby hasn't mentioned this park. Thanks for the head up. BTW, I wouldn't want to be in the cage, either, thank you!

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