Having seen lions on TV, Priyanka is suffering from nightmares. Read the modern day fairy tale that her mother shares with her to help defeat her fear.
It was 1 a.m. Priyanka was tossing from side to side on her bed. Usually, she was in her world of dreams at this time of the night. But, this night was different. She simply could not sleep. Frightening and nauseating scenes of lions chasing cattle, which she had seen on a wildlife channel just a couple of hours ago, were haunting her.
12 years old Priyanka was aware that in a few days she would grow up to be a teenager and she should develop a stable and strong mindset. She tried to reason out that whatever she had seen on T.V. should not be taken too seriously as such incidents happen in jungles and it was unlikely that such an event will ever happen with her now. This thought comforted her for a while but again the image of the lions dragging away the carcass of the bull nauseated her. She sat up on her bed.
Mom, who was passing by, saw the lights on in Priyanka’s room so late in the night. She wondered what the matter was. She went to Priyanka’s bed and was disturbed to see her tossing in it from side to side in grief and sleeplessness. Mom patted Priyanka’s head and asked her what was troubling her so much. Priyanka replied, “Mom, lions are so cruel. They are frightening me so much. I am really scared.”
Priyanka’s mother tried to pacify her. She said, “Priyanka, let me tell you a story. You will feel good.” Mom’s sweet voice already started having a calming effect on Priyanka’s agitated mind. Mom asked Priyanka to lie down calmly while she told the story.
Her emollient narration began: “In the year 2005, one fine morning, the media carried a shocking news piece for many people across the world. It was too good to be true, but it happened.”
Priyanka now seemed to be absolutely curious to know what it was. Her depression seemed to have vanished. Quickly, she demanded to know, “Mom, please let me know what it was. I am very eager to know.”
Priyanka’s mother continued, “This is the most interesting incident that I am aware of. Now, there was this 12 years old Ethiopian girl who was kidnapped by a notorious gang. They took her to the jungle, but fled when a group of lions approached them. The girl’s parents and the police found her, unharmed, in the company of those lions. At that time, it looked as though the lions had protected the girl from her abductors and guarded her till she was safely rescued by her family.”
Priyanka could not believe her ears. With her mouth agape and eyes wide open, she stared at her mother for a moment before speaking. Priyanka asked, “Mom, did such a thing really happen? I can’t believe it.”
Mom smiled at Priyanka and replied, “Yes, this did happen though later there was speculation about the intention of the lions. Some thought that they intended on preying upon the child. Lions are worshipped in Ethopia and many consider them as saviours from the divine. Some others thought that the wails of the little girl sounded like the mewing of cubs and this had elicited sympathy from the lions. Others opined that the lions were actually preparing to eat the girl, when human help arrived. Whatever be the reason for the lions’ attitude towards the little girl, it is a fact that they did not harm her and that sounds like a fairy tale, rather a modern fairy tale, doesn’t it?”
Priyanka blurted out in relief, “Mom, then are lions really kind animals?”
Priyanka’s mom warned, “Priyanka, yes every animal is kind, but you should be cautious as their behaviour changes as per their food needs. A hungry or angry animal can be very cruel. You should always maintain a safe distance from animals that are known to prey on humans. Never try to go near a lion even in the zoological garden or a wildlife park. Always visit them under full security as provided by your parents or guardian. Wildlife sanctuaries are a riskier holiday venue than zoological gardens as the animals freely roam about in the latter. Of course, the zones in which they roam about are usually restricted for human movement, but there have been cases where the beasts have attacked humans in wildlife parks even when they alighted their vehicles just to change seats.
While we are on the subject let us discuss the general safety norms when we visit wild animals in the zoo.
Firstly, we should bear in mind that however tame or trained a lion or any other wild animal may be, you should mingle while following safety rules. This is because the animals may cause harm unintentionally by misinterpreting your body language. Their behaviour should not be considered the same as the endearing animal characters in children films. They are gentle or fierce depending on their circumstances.
When visiting the zoo with friends, never get into bravery competitions. This may even cost you your life. Your friends may challenge you to demonstrate gutsy activities such as jumping or leaning over the safety fence. On the other hand, some may even assure you of safety while coaxing you to perform an unsafe act. Never give in to such requests and always adhere strictly to the safety norms. Foolish acts of bravery can cost you your life. You can politely but firmly turn down requests that seem to trade your safety.
Respect the animals and everything will be fine. Do not feed them out of turn or with stuff they are not supposed to have. We find this entertaining but the animals may fall sick. When you respect their needs of timely meals, privacy and kindness, you will not be harmed.
Priyanka learnt a lot about wildlife and the safety precautions one has to follow while interacting with them. It was through this unique incident, which seemed like a modern fairy tale, that she learnt so much and she felt happy about it.
- Emollient – Soothing
- Speculation – Analysis of a matter
- Endearing – affectionate