14 September 2009

7 Lions, 3 Days, and 2 Shirts Later

My first Monday at Harnas. After turning in our indemnity forms, we now have the right to enter all (or most, really) of the enclosures at Harnas. Right off the bat, David goes for his group walk with The Brothers: Pax, Maddox, and Brad. If you happen catch a tip of the hat to a famous couple who has connections to Cambodia, Namibia, and New Orleans, that’s because there is one. Angelina and Brad sponsored the electric exterior perimeter fence around Harnas. Getting back to the animals... The three lion brothers are almost a year old. We load them up in the bed of a pick-up truck (caged) with one of the volunteers, with another one in the cab with the driver, and two of us hang on by our fingertips to the cage. ADVENTURE!

Felines at harnas seem to like me. We got dropped off at the beginning of where The Brothers walk. Within about five minutes, two of them decided they wanted to play with me. When a VERY heavy and VERY strong one year old lion plays, it’s not quite the same as a house cat. I tried not to turn my back on them during the whole walk, but two of them insisted on stalking me and running up to me. Once or twice they managed to jump on my side or back before I called them down. Thus I gained my first lion-ripped shirt. People said to me later that day, “I hope that wasn’t your favorite shirt”, to which I replied, “it is now!”

A mere two days later I went for a group walk with The Babies (four six-month-old lion cubs). This is one of the groups of animals my team is responsible for feeding. We had only just entered their enclosure to get them ready to go for their walk when one of them sneaks up behind me -- don’t ever turn your back on a lion -- despite Fiona’s “having my back”. Well, someone had my back. One of The Babies decided to see if my GHC shirt was tasty. Or maybe the big orange circle on the back looked too much like a target for him to pass up. Anyway, in short measure I had my second lion-ripped shirt. No skin breakage this time, even though it was teeth that ripped the shirt.

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