There was not much to it really, I just stepped into a large plastic box that let me safely into the lion’s enclosure. I only went in because I wanted the full zoo experience on that lovely blue-sky autumn day years ago. There were few visitors walking the paths between animal exhibits, and I almost did not go into the lion enclosure because it looked as if someone had left an unauthorized access open. I looked closer to see if I was obligated to report imminent danger. Nothing stirred. I smelled the sweet dry grasses that grew tall and seemed undisturbed in the enclosure, mingled with the rank smell of cat urine. There was or had recently been a large stinky cat in there. Powerful. Scary. But where was it? The plastic box went about twelve feet in and the tall grasses grew up against it on the other side. I checked for a door ajar, broken plastic, seams bent open, but saw nothing but bits of litter, spider webs, and the usual smears that animals leave as they try various ways to escape. I walked up to the plastic barrier, peering around to see if the male lion was in as advertised. Still nothing. I saw that the enclosure was relatively small, which would be very hard on a large predator like a lion, the males of which control some one hundred square miles of grasslands, scrub, or open woodlands. Not to mention the lack of room for a harem of lion females which would be essential to his health, happiness, and well-being. I was thinking those sad thoughts when the hair rose on the back of my neck, and I realized that there were large boulders in the enclosure from which a particularly powerful lion might leap up into the open air and down on me. I gasped with horror as I searched up frantically to make sure that the plastic box into which I had stepped was truly a complete box with that essential lid on it. It was. As I relaxed with relief, I caught a glimpse behind my right shoulder of a large male lion crouched up on a boulder prepared to pounce on me; and horror flooded back into me. But then I saw the dominance of killing fade from his shear-toothed face. His jowls fell slack with acceptance that that joy was not to be. How many people had he fantasized of killing in just this way? He slunk seamlessly back into the grasses behind the solid glass, saddened to see me live to tell this tale.
Caption: Lion Materialized Out Of The Blue by Annmarie Throckmorton, 2016.