Farewell to a King

Cecil, the Lion, Who Wore
His Mane & GPS With Pride

He couldn’t have cared less how he’d live or die; just did it both the best way he could. The slaughter of Cecil the Lion, an iconic Zimbabwean big cat who’d been studied for most of his 13 short years, continues to generate waves of grief and anger throughout the Web.
His death, however, is more of a despicable routine than a surprising casualty. His killer, a dentist who’s now candidate to world’s worst person according to a dubious online consensus, spent a small fortune for the right to maim first, and then execute, the majestic feline.
Cecil left behind his brother Jericho and the extended pride they both commanded, along with a bloodline which will most likely be exterminated too. He also leaves years of research for the Oxford University team that outfitted him with a GPS collar to track his whereabouts.
It was a brutal death after an equally brutal life, but of the two, the first one could’ve been avoided. Cecil spent his last agonizing 40 hours with an arrow wound, before being found by his heartless hunter and his over-equipped posse, who then proceeded to shoot, skin, and behead him.
But for as much as this was a senseless act, that tears to shreds the arguable view of humans as innately inclined to compassion, as it stands, it’s far from being unique, final, or even solely attributable to the low member of the species who perpetrated it.

After all, our ambiguity towards animal killing is not about to be dissipated by the martyrdom of one lion in the jungles of Africa. Neither a spike in collective adherence to Veganism is about to trend on Twitter; we’ll keep on eating burgers as if they have nothing to do with anything.
In a way, it was also a devilish twist on the David vs Goliath legend: the only way a hunter can win is by deception and downright cowardice. And once again, the weaker but wicked species was capable to down a formidably beautiful and almost infinitely more powerful creature.
That bloody ritual, misnamed as the hunt, is garishly reproduced everyday around the world, with flesh-hungry hordes terrorizing and slaughtering animals, from Spanish Toradas to Brazilian Farra do Boi to Western Snake Hunt to Chinese dog-eating contests to the Pacific Islands’ Grindatrap.
We’ve conducting these barbaric costumes for so long that we’ve forgotten that they were never defensible to begin with, but only primitive forms of mass manipulation by despots and tyrants. Still many see no wrong with them as long as they involve only animals.

They don’t really stand a chance against us and neither Cecil saw it coming. To invoke some mediocre irony of he being slayed under the Astrological Sign of Leo, a couple of weeks shy of World Lion Day, is not just in extremely bad taste, but reinforces our shame towards our own species.
To whom the actress Mia Farrow, of all people, added yet another below-the-belt notch, by republishing on her social media account the address of the tooth professional. They both made us even less proud too. But unlike us, there’s no act of revenge scheduled by Cecil’s pride.
And that’s the difference, and a big one at that. Animals don’t exist or care in the realm where a species makes a conscious and calculated effort to do harm onto others. Other lions will come to take over that pride, just as nature tells them to. And there won’t be any ill feelings about it all.

We could dwell deeper on that, but to those who’ve ever established eye contact with a wild beast in a zoo, such musings are a moot point. Better is to focus on the fate of thousands of big cats currently captive in the U.S., under miserable conditions.
One may argue that Cecil, at least, lived and died in the wild where he belonged. So many others haven’t been that lucky, including tigers whose worldwide population is now larger in the dead-end, depressing, genetic wasteland of private resorts than living free.
So there’s nothing wrong with mourning the killing of Cecil, the lion, king of beasts and member of a species whose family is named after such a self-affirmative noun. He made us proud and, yes, his death was meaningful, something that’s sorely lacking about our own species.
Read Also:
* Sleep With the Fishes
* The Saddest Song
* Suddenly, Last Caturday

2 thoughts on “Farewell to a King

  1. There’s little sadder than seeing animals locked up in cages. A short story I wrote some years ago was partly based on one of the circuses that used to visit the pueblo.

    To watch big cats pacing up and down cages all day long is quite distressing, to see the way a small minority of the locals poked sticks through the bars was worse. Of course, while I was able to walk away, the big cats were going to be confined for the rest of their lives.

    The circuses with animals don’t seem to come anymore, so I can only hope the council put a stop to it.

    Thanks for the article, Wesley, it gives another, more personal view to the story.


  2. unclerave says:

    Reblogged this on Unclerave's Wordy Weblog and commented:
    For once, I’m in agreement with the court of public opinion! — YUR


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