Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Jahari the Lion

The lion house at the San Francisco Zoo opened at 1:00 yesterday, and I went in there to stare down a lion.

The lion's name is "Jahari," meaning "strong and brave." The seven-year-old weighs 550 pounds, one of the largest lions in captivity.

According to his trainer, Debbie Marrin-Towey, he likes the game of intimidating visitors. He was hand-raised, fed by a bottle as a cub, so he is particularly fascinated by humans.

Ms. Marrin-Towey told me it was time for Jahari's snack. She checked that all the doors were securely locked, and then sprayed some milk on a dead rabbit and placed it in his outdoor enclosure. Jahari's eyes stopped watching the nervous movements of my watercolor pencils, and followed her instead.

After what happened here three years ago, I'm glad the cage was well secured.
2007 fatal tiger attack
San Franciso Zoo
Previously on GJ: Gorilla Portraits


Dan Gurney said...

What I'm wondering is how you posted this at around 3 in the morning Pacific time. Does extended staring into a lion's eyes and make sleep a little hard to come by?

James Gurney said...

Dan, yes, I woke up from a dream with those eyes drilling into me. My question for you: why does your computer clock say 8:51 when it's really 5:51?

Dan Gurney said...

I don't know what I was thinking!

You posted this at 11:00 AM, Bantry time.

Unknown said...

Gurney in the lions den.

Max West said...

You definitely captured the essence of the lion.

China Blue Rockett said...

What a staredown... it must have been intimidating to look at him for so long.

You recall my gryphon mask-- well, I wore that to King Richard's Faire recently and the young tigers there stalked me as I walked around their cage. They know a giant edible bird when they see one, I guess! Aaaa.

Markus B├╝hler said...

A weight of 550 pound is indeed much for a lion. The largest lion ever held in captivity was a monstrous male lion named Simba which was born in 1958 at Dublin zoo. It was later purchased by the animal trainer Adrian Nyoka at the age of six months. Untill the age of six Simba grew normally, but later it showed abnormal growth. In 1970 it was 3.20 m in length and weighed an incredible 375 kg, that´s much more than any confirmed lion from the wild. There is a photo of Simba in "The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats" which shows it standing next to Adrian Nyoka. It´s size is really enormous, it was as big as a horse (yet not as tall of course).

David Glenn said...

The way you drew Jahari makes me think of a cover for a Narnia story.