Friday, July 14, 2006

Lions And Tigers And Rears, Oh My!!


I wasn't planning on recounting my days on this blog. The whole idea of sharing one's life to a diary and hoping someone cared enough to read a bit of personal blither never appealed to me. And I still don't plan on recounting my days, ever, on this blog.

But today was one of those days that was worth recounting.

I got asked if I'd help with a project that a friend of mine was asked to step in on. Apparently, the carpenter who started the project never showed up for the second go around. One day working and he was GONE. No explanations. No apologies. Just gone....

"It's at that big cat place, just outside of town," my friend (with the cheeky new scar) told me.

"The BIG cat place?"

"Yep."

"I'm in. I've always wanted to see what was inside that place."

If I had a memory, I'd tell you what the sign said out front. Something about Big cats, the wild, and fun for the whole family. There are thirty "cats" on the premises, and you pay to see them. Some of them are very big, to be sure.

Tigers. Lions. Panthers. Leopards. There are thirty big cats in all, in cages( all with "yards" to exercise in) , all staring at you as you walk by....

The job was to build another cat enclosure, the area where the cats come to eat, sleep, get out of the sun, and stalk carpenters. Twelve feet deep by thirty six feet wide. Ten feet in front, and eight feet in back with a two and twelve metal roof, all built around six by six poles sunk four feet in the ground. Easy peasy....

The trouble was, this job was not far from the last job, which housed a rather large female, and a rather large male LION. We were to copy the construction details of the last enclosure, which required walking near the fence where a very large kitty was hell bent on staring, directly and intently, on some of my softer parts. The male never got up, but he never stopped following us with his heavily maned eyes. His eyes alone, looked like they could eat me.

Well, I say "never got up" , but what I meant was he didn't get up for the longest time. When he did, and this was after several hours-- when I had finally gotten used to the idea that a chain link fence kept me alive and I actually could turn my back on the king of the jungle and cut a two by six without pissing my pants-- he got up.

An he got up in a hurry.

I don't know what the Misses in the next cage over said to him. I was busy sawing and marking, measuring and yakking away, telling my buddy about the Australian croc attacks that happened while I was in the north of OZ--quite a few in the year I was up there-- and all of a sudden he lets out this roar that broke wind and ripped the normal noise asunder. I mean this monster cat rearranged the wind and piled it up my backside and I felt the change like one feels the concussive nature of a stick of dynamite. The lion's roar lifted my shirt up the backside--I swear-- and if I hadn't of already cleaned out my insides with a morning coffee and its subsequent movement, I woulda shit myself.

The lion pounced on the wire cage to intimidate the female, who pounced back, resulting in a cat fight through mesh that was violently orated by two very angry lions.

Now this happened so fast I was still bent over, just starting to shit myself (so to speak), and not yet running for my life. I was still holding a slowing saw, still looking down, still only fifteen feet away from this explosion of cat wrath, and still entirely not sure that the wire fence was holding, and that the wrath was not about me....

I run pretty good for an older fella....

ADDENDUM-- The cats were well cared for and given ample space. I'm not too sure about the ethics of roadside big cat zoos (are they saving species, or exploiting human fascination? The owner of this place loves his cats, and claims the former. He's not a wealthy man, by any means, and works hard for his cats' sake...

2 comments:

kris, seattle said...

Tree houses, lion enclosures, you do get some interesting jobs Scott. Glad to hear no one was actually injured, though it might have taken a day or two off your normal life expectancy.

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