Breaking news: Thank God for Twitter. It just brought me this horrifying video I never would have seen if not for endless streams of tweets and HuffPo Weird News. Usually the only kind of news I like is weird, but I’m not sure this quite qualifies.
The video is short and sweet but also disturbing – not because the lioness at the Oregon Zoo literally attempts to bite the head off the little baby who ostensibly is sitting safely in front of the glass-walled cage – but because the the family filming the home video is unfazed and actually laughing while the lioness claws at the glass trying to devour their child.
To be fair to the lioness, the toddler is dressed in a black and white striped hooded sweatshirt which could be confusing for a wild animal. If I were a lioness I might mistakenly take the child for an baby zebra myself. An injured baby zebra, which makes for an easy meal, because the kid is placed sitting alone on the floor propped up against the glass wall,
Animals are, well, animals, and I don’t blame the lioness for following her instincts. That’s how species survive. I’m just a little mystified by the parents who continued to film the footage instead of scooping up their baby, especially after the lioness opened her massive jaws in an attempt to wrap them around the toddler’s head.
To be fair to the parents, the lioness was behind a thick glass wall barrier. But still I feel the need to point out wild animals have been known to snack on humans. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but I don’t trust any kind of barrier between my kid and razor-tooth, man-eating animals especially not a breakable one. Maybe I’m particularly sensitive because of my own experience at the zoo, but less than an inch of glass keeping a lioness from attacking a child does not make me feel secure.
My experience doesn’t include a panel of glass, but it was equally as scary (don’t worry – no one was injured in the reporting of this piece). When my daughter was about three-years-old my husband and I took her to the Turtle Back Zoo. It was late in the day on a cool fall afternoon, and the zoo was pretty quite. We were on our way out when Lily wanted to make one last stop at the bob cat exhibit. We were the only ones around and Kevin and I hung back on the trail while Lily approached the cage. Like most animals in the zoo, the bob cat was hidden somewhere in her/his cage, and we couldn’t see where it was laying. But as Lily neared the wooden fence a few feet from the ramshackle wire cage, the cat sprung from the rocks and raced over to Lily. That scared the the daylights (I could say something worse but this is a family publication) out of me. I went into crisis mode and ran to Lily, yanked her away from the cage and announced it was time to go home.
Do I know the bob cat could escape? No. But do I trust that he/she won’t do everything in its power to get at easy prey? No. That moment is seared in my brain because it was so unexpected and frightening. I know that animal had every intention of eat my child. We as Americans don’t typically face that kind of danger, and although I’ve seen animals on the hunt before, it’s always through the safety of my T.V. screen when I’m watching National Geographic. But it is real. I think people forget that. Forget the power, intelligence and determination of animals. They are designed to hunt. It’s natural. And it would be good for us all to remember that.