Sunday, September 14, 2008

The girls from Mississippi

They came in this huge trailer. No one seeing the long white trailer on the road could possibly know there were two lives inside who were being taken to a new home, a better home, than the one they'd been living in for so many years. They had been part of a 'collector's' menagerie for the past 15 years. We really weren't able to find out a lot about their previous circumstances except the person was getting rid of the animals.

The girls had been loaded up in Mississippi the night before and had been on the road the entire night. They had no idea that when the back doors of the trailer opened, their new lives would begin.

The trailer arrived early in the morning and pulled up to the rear of the lockouts. Our single male African lion was curious of the company as he only sees humans when being fed.

He could see the trailer and everyone walking around, but, when the back doors of the trailer were opened and the girls began talking, he really perked up.

The back doors of the trailer were opened and the girls blinked from the brightness. They were in huge wild hog traps with hay and water bowls. It had been a long journey and it was almost over.

I'm sure the person who had them before had named them, but, to tell them apart, I call one Girl and the other one Sister. Girl is the more aggressive one. Even though she had been on the road for almost 24 hours, she was still very vocal about her situation and a little more than sensitive to every one's movements.

Both cages were offloaded and on each girl's terms they entered their lockouts. They had an entire enclosure to check out and make their own. In the meantime, the male lion was watching every moment. Here is his fist look at Girl.

She didn't seem to be too impressed with the slobbering boy on the other side of the fence, and, he probably wasn't so sure more lions were a good thing. After all, he had been king for awhile now and his 'only child' status was slipping rapidly.

The girls were left on their side of the enclosure for several days so they could get used to their new environment and get used to their neighbor, who would eventually be their room mate (remember Three's Company??!!!).

The day came for the guillotines to be lifted between the enclosures. We gathered around the lockouts preparing the plan and preparing for anything that could go wrong. There was no way anyone would be able to enter the enclosures if there was a disagreement between the lions, so we enacted safety precautions and called on all things powerful to watch over this introduction.

The guillotine between the yards was raised and the boy lion was lured into his yard and the door was closed to his lockout. He had never seen the guillotine opened before so wasn't aware he could squeeze through it to gain access to the neighboring yard.

After time had passed, it was agreed that the guillotine between their lockouts would be raised so that he could walk through. The girls by this time had walked into their yard. The guillotines were raised and he walked from his yard, through his lockout, through the guillotine that separated the lockouts to the girl's lockout. He then walked into the girl's yard, past the girls and zeroed in on his prey---

a plastic ball used for rats and guinea pigs to roll around in. In this particular instance, the ball had been washed in a bleach water mixture and given as enrichment to the girls several days earlier and, from what Mike said, he'd probably been eye-balling it since he put it in there.

The girls walked near him and he ignored them preferring to play soccer with and claim the ball. The one I call Sister laid nearby, guarding him. She looked back as if to tell Girl that she had the situation under control.

Girl's reaction was to wrinkle her nose as if to say "Ewww, a stinky boy" and strolled back to her lockout.

Boy lion kept playing soccer with his ball and the girls watched from a distance. He ended up in the shade beyond their play structure and they watched him alternately from their lockout and underneath the structure. There was one little skirmish (just voices, no contact) between he Sister. During that time Girl strode quickly back to the safety of the lockout. After, Sister went to comfort Girl in their lockout.

The girls stayed in their lockout and Boy lion stayed in the shade beneath the trees with 'his' ball. We all decided it was a good time to retreat from the area and allow them to adjust to one another.

There was just one more skirmish between the three. It happened later that evening. No one is quite sure exactly what happened, but it was plain the girls were still a little stressed and that the boy lion was probably more than a little confused. So the group was separated during the night for the following few nights and then were allowed to be together at all times after that.

It's exciting that our boy now has girls to keep him company. Or more to the point, to keep him in line--whatever that entails.