Zamba

>> Sunday, January 6, 2008

Zamba: The True Story of the Greatest Lion That Ever Lived by Ralph Helfer

My sister recommended this one to me, and I can't recommend it enough. Mr. Helfer has led a very interesting life and made quite an impact on how animals in show business are treated.

One of the most priceless things in the book has to be the pictures! I love the picture of three-year-old Tana flipping through a book next to Zamba. That has to be one of the best pictures I have ever seen. I wish I had a scanner so I could copy it.

"From the very beginning, Tana and Zamba had a special relationship. My relationship with Zamba was so close and so trusting that I never even though twice about bringing my daughter up around him. Zamba knew lots of baby animals, and he always treated Tana with the utmost gentleness and respect. He'd never lick her skin, for instance, only her clothes as if he knew that his rough tongue would hurt her. And I never saw his claws out when he was anywhere near her. They grew up together as siblings, and indeed, Tana called him her brother.
Needless to say, many people still can't believe I let them spend time together. Animals are dangerous around children. Children are unpredictable. They're small, they run around, and they have high-pitched voices--just like prey. To this day, Zamba is the only lion I've ever known whom I could imagine trusting with a child. But trust him I did. They used to watch television together--cartoons or Westerns--after dinner. She would curl up against him with a bowl of popcorn and drift off. My heart was filled with happiness to see them together like that; it was like beauty and the beast, except to me they were both beautiful."
I showed the picture of Zamba and Tana looking at a book together to one of my coworkers. She said no way would she let her child be that close to a lion.

Some day, I'll have to see The Lion and Fluffy. Zamba's become too much of a real person after reading this book to miss them.

I cried when he died at the end of the book.

I NEVER cry!

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