The Birmingham Gazette describes an extraordinary scene, which was witnessed at the Zoological Gardens of Mr Morris Roberts, Balsall Heath, a few days ago. The keeper went into the menagerie to put the lion 'through his facings' for the amusement of his wife and mother, and five other visitors. As the animal had been in a surly humour during the afternoon, the keeper was requested to forgo his determination to enter the cage. In spite, however, of the entreaties of his wife and mother, and the consciousness that is was close upon feeding time £ the animal having a decidedly hungry look £ the adventurous fellow went into the cage and commenced 'playing' with the lion. The only weapon he had was a long broom with which he said he wanted to sweep out the den. Instead of brushing the floor, he rubbed the broom three or four times across the head of the animal, who speedily evinced his dislike to the tantalising treatment by uttering a low, stifled roar. In order to show his complete mastery over the animal, he then placed his hand over his mane and ordered him to lie down. This he did somewhat reluctantly for a few seconds, but suddenly resuming his former posture, the brute asserted his supremacy by knocking his 'keeper' head over heels into the corner of the cage. Then noticing that the man had been negligent enough to forget to close the door, the lion made a belt out of his den into the arena. The panic among the limited number of sightseers may be readily imagined, but fortunately they had all made sure of ready means of exit by taking up their situation within a short distance of the doors leading out into the gardens. As soon as the lion made his appearance in the open space every door was closed, and the keeper was left alone in company with the ferocious beast. Fully appreciating his hostile attitude, the man wisely decided to shut himself up in the lion's cage, where he surveyed the unpleasant scene below with comparative safety. The consternation of those who secured an outside view of the agonising scene which was being enacted inside the menagerie was terrible in the extreme. The wife of the imprisoned keeper swooned away, narrowly escaping falling through the door into the embraces of the infuriated brute. While a consultation was being held as to future operations, everyone was astounded by the entrance of the keeper, looking a white as a sheet, and in a fearful state of mental perturbation. In reply to the inquiry as to how he managed to escape, he said he resolved at last to have recourse to coaxing, so he took the broom in his hand and jumped out. He then rubbed the broom gently across the lion's back for about ten minutes £ a mode of proceeding, which seemed to suit the erratic animal immensely. At length he proceeded to stroke his mane, and endeavoured to coax him back into his den, but the lion roared furiously. Giving the broom to his unsociable companion to chew, he made a rush for the door, and just managed to close it ere the lion was upon him. The question then arose how to get the brute into the den. The most awkward feature was that the elephant, who had only been 'exercised' in the gardens, was entirely at his mercy, being tied up in the open cage at the end of the menagerie. At length Mr A H Norton proposed that some meat should be passed along the roof into the cage, which would probably be the means of enticing Master Leo into his old quarters. It was found necessary to take off a large number of slates, and the keeper scrambled along the rafters and dangled a piece of meat into the cage. This had the desired effect, for the lion seized the tempting bait with the utmost avidity, and was occupied quickly in devouring the flesh. Even now the door was still open. The keeper procuring another tempting morsel, lowered it into the adjacent pen, and the slide being removed, the author of all the trouble was firmly captive. On finding himself once more a prisoner he exhibited a striking exhibition of temper, and on the keeper administering a little wholesome castigation with a riding whip, he made a desperate attempt to seize his arm.
Dunstable Borough Gazette March 17 1875 - A Lion at Large
- Written by Nathan Zipfel
- Category: Newspaper Articles
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