Deer vs. Lions

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Ever just find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time? Remember that time in 3rd grade when you walked into the bathroom alone to find yourself face to face with the big kids of the school sharing a smoke? That sinking feeling that you were about to be swirlied would pale compared to what must have passed through the head of a wayward deer in the National Zoo last Sunday.

The deer wandered into the zoo from surrounding Rock Creek Park. It is no rare thing for deer to be found on the zoo’s grounds. It happens periodically. What usually does not happen is for them to leap head on into the lion enclosure. Around 2:50 P.M.  a doe, a deer, a female deer bounded past spectators who were viewing the lions. It leaped the wall, caught a hoof and tumbled into the moat below. One of the two female lions jumped in after it and a chase ensued over the next twenty minutes while enthusiastic zoo goers chanted “GO! GO! GO!”

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I was like so rooting for the deer yo.

While some guests took their children away in horror, others stayed and watched a drama unfold that most of us will only see on the discovery channel. The lions grappled the deer. The deer escaped and the whole thing repeated itself several times over like a 4th quarter Steelers game.

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The captive lions seemed to lack the true hunger and instinct of their wild counterparts. While their enthusiasm was without question and they had victory in their grasp at several points they were just unable to seal a conclusive win. It seems that the lions’ inexperience in an actual predatory situation was a hindrance to their ability to pursue an unquestioned triumph.

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The end result, hardcore fans of wildlife spectacle were treated to one hell of a competition and the victory was grudgingly awarded to the lions as the deer had to be taken off the field and put down. One can’t help but think that the lions could have more enjoyed the spoils had they been more decisive and secured the win in a more timely fashion. At that point it seems unlikely that the zoo keepers would have felt the need to relieve them of their trophy.

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In fact the entire incident smacks of the deer vs. polar bear incident that played itself out in the Pittsburgh Zoo exactly two years prior to the day. Nov 8th 2007 started out in a slightly more dramatic fashion for the whitetail deer who entered the polar bear pool with a spectacular 20 foot high dive. When the inexperienced bears cornered the deer it responded with an inspired play of aggression and kept them at bay until the zoo keepers once again intervened. The deer walked calmly out of the polar bear enclosure that day but was also euthanized for its efforts.

In conclusion captive animals seem to lack the instincts to ensure clear cut victory over a heartened defense, so if you should ever find yourself in such an unlikely arena the best thing might be to get a little aggressive yourself. The Pittsburgh polar bears are celebrating birthdays this week. Anana and Aurora turn three and Koda and Nuka turn four. Guess what they would like. Cake will be served. B.Y.O.D.