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  • Writer's pictureNondiarist

Zimbabwe revisited - The lioness

The Lion and Cheetah Park, just outside Harare. There's a bit you can wander about in, between natural habitat enclosures housing small mammals and primates, birds and reptiles (if you’re lucky enough, they stay in view) and then there’s the Lion Enclosure. The bit you’re only permitted to enter in your car and, once you’re through the gates, that’s it. You stay in your car. Unless you’ve decided it’s time to end it all.

We stayed in the car – me, Eddie, Matthew and Ayeshah – because we’re sensible people. We saw the lionesses and their cubs and they saw us, and we got eyed up by Big Daddy himself.

Then we exited the four metre high double gates, parked the car and headed for the walking area, passing close to the perimeter fence of the Lion Enclosure on the way.

The lionesses had moved from where we'd seen them and were right there, within twenty metres of us. The Boss Lady observed our approach. Maybe she thought we were going to abduct a cub or two or maybe she was having a Bad-Hair-Day. Maybe she just didn’t like the look of us. Whatever her reasons, she slunk towards us on her belly for a few strides and then she charged. She swirled to a halt in the dust at the diamond mesh barrier and shook her head with a grunt.

What goes through your mind in such circumstances? A lot of muddled stuff, to be honest. There's this expression 'frozen to the spot' and we did just that. No moving, no breathing, just staring - into yellow eyes. But then there was a very tall fence between us of course. What we would've done without the fence I have absolutely no idea.

Boss Lady had made her point, whatever that was. She ambled off, like ha ha, bet that got your hearts pumping, you silly trio of overdressed chimps.

Trio? I did a rapid 360 but of Eddie there was no sign. He remembers the incident to this day and still maintains that if it had come to a chase he only had to be the third fastest out of the four of us. He doesn’t seem to be able to remember the fence at all.

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