Listen, I’m not going to lie that we lions are morally perfect creatures. We’re no better than humans, and neither is any other animal hungry for food and passion. Cecil wasn’t a saint but I prefer him to cosmetic dentist Walter Palmer who paid butchers fifty grand to shoot Cecil with an arrow and track his dying soul forty hours before he posed with the lion and beheaded and skinned him.
Several years ago, as a cringing cub, I first saw Cecil when he and his brother attacked our pride, seeking the joys and security of family communal life belonging to others. Cecil, in his athletic prime, mauled our leader and seemed not to mourn his brother whose throat was ripped by my uncle. Cecil survived but was quite severely wounded and had to limp away. Let’s phrase it kindly and say Cecil recuperated and established a pride of more than twenty females, cubs, and a subordinate male. One shudders considering how many unrelated cubs he murdered. At this time he became a star – I contend he was a ham – and loved posing for tourists and scientists and any human who wanted to admire his powerful physique and glorious mane. He especially enjoyed being photographed and filmed. I’m surprised he didn’t sign autographs. Like all great stars, however, Cecil aged into vulnerability and two young and more powerful males removed him from center stage. I indeed was one of the warriors involved in the coup d’état. After this, Cecil moved elsewhere in our beloved Zimbabwe, made an alliance with Jericho, and the aging studs established another pride and propagated their bloodlines.
I must also reveal we still talk about, more proudly than perhaps we should, the two starving lions, in 1898 Kenya, whose preferred fare, wildebeests and zebras, had perished due to drought and illness as well as those compulsive rifle shooters. Our improvising duo decided to target humans building roads in the area. At night they slept in tents the lions crashed into, for months, and between them ate perhaps forty-five screaming people before long-frustrated saviors shot the leonine diners.
That returns us to Walter Palmer, the dentist made rich by crafting pretty smiles. You heard he was incommunicado for a few days, ignoring phone calls, emails, and raps on his home and office doors, and I’m sure you assumed he was ensconced in some fine place in the United States. In fact, my pride and I had kidnapped the rascal as he was about to enter a vehicle, and he was my whiny guest in the African bush. After starving and battering him a bit I’d decided I better eat him while his meat remained plentiful and fresh. As I opened my massive mouth and moved toward his head the good doctor screamed, “My God, sir, are you daft? With those rotting and battle-broken teeth you’ll soon be prey to every virile lion in the region. Let me fix your teeth and save your life.”
“I have no need of Hollywood choppers.”
“I’m talking about equipping you with unbreakable steel teeth that would ensure victory in any battle.”
“You can do that?”
“Certainly, if you let me live.”
“It’s a deal.”
“How do I know you won’t eat me after I rebuild your oral weaponry?”
“How do I know you won’t shoot me your next time here?”
“I promise I’ll never return.”
Note: At press time we can neither confirm nor refute reports that Cecil’s comrade Jericho was himself recently felled by fearless hunters.