Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Spring - Summer 2008

No lie, the King of Beasts.


The Pride of Lions

Dennis Dolbear
Photo of a Charly Wise original lion photograph

Ah, spring. In the spring, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love … and what about us older guys? Well, if Harlan is to be trusted, love ain’t nothin’ but sex misspelled, and most of us older guys are good spellers.

Take Frasier, for instance: one of my heroes.

Remember Frasier? The Love Lion? Father of the Year by Act of Congress? No? Well, gather ‘round, my sons, and I’ll tell you an inspiring story.

In the late 60’s/early 70’s, Lion Country Safari in California had a problem with its collection (a “pride”) of lionesses. Specifically, in mating them. Several splendid young males had been introduced to the group, but without any notable success. In fact, one superb specimen from a private menagerie was a little forward in his attentions, apparently believing that the babes love it when you’re aggressive, and in return was so badly mauled by the pride that he required extensive medical attention.

And the situation was dangerous, because what you basically had was a group of about 14 sexually frustrated, pissed-off females who were in perpetual heat. And it weren’t nothin’ nice. Their handlers found them difficult to control.

Into this mix, for what reasons no one knows, came Frasier, a most unlikely Romeo. He came to Lion Country when a traveling Mexican circus went bankrupt. He was elderly – about 79 or 80 in human terms – and in very poor physical condition. His joints were arthritic. He was nearly blind and toothless, and as the final indignity, his mane was moth-eaten. Even his kidneys didn’t work properly – he was frequently incontinent. I guess they put him in with the young lionesses because they felt he’d be harmless, old and feeble as he was.

His kidneys, eyes and teeth might not have worked. But there was, as it turned out, one part of Frasier that was hitting on all cylinders.

Came the dawn …

Frasier was found lying on his back with all four paws up in the air, exhausted, and the lionesses – that’s what was incredible – from a group that was suffering from an extended form of lion PMS, they were now lying about the enclosure, lazily grooming themselves, flicking their tails, and wearing those smartass female expressions common to almost any species of mammal, that lets any reasonably intelligent male okay, that’s not so many) know that something is up.

Specifically, Frasier had performed magnificently over the nighttime, mounting every single lioness, capturing their hearts where the more beautiful – and younger – had failed.

The contrast in their treatment couldn’t have been more dramatic. Remember the handsome young stud they nearly sent to his heavenly reward? With Frasier, they chewed his food for him. When he decided to go for a little exercise, two lionesses would walk on either side of him to prop up his aching, elderly bones. They would do likewise when one of the lionesses would again go into heat. The fortunate one would assume the position while two lionesses, like priestesses, would escort the elderly but virile – to say the least – male to the lucky female, whereupon Frasier would, in the words of noted grasslands naturalist and big cat expert Sir Graham Hill, get his freak on.

His adoring harem worshiped him, and he was a magnificent example as a father – something like 35 kids in the first year of his reign. Congress passed a resolution proclaiming him Father of the Year.

This lasted for about 18 months, when the Rudolph Valentino/Clark Gable/Cary Grant of the feline set passed away in his sleep, and entered into legend. He had several of his ladies, shall we say, in a family way when he left us.

But I have it on good authority that the pride was distraught when he died. Get this: as you might expect, they never accepted another male again. I can see them lying about the enclosure, gossiping casually … (voices: think Oprah.)

Y’know, that last one – with the dark mane – he was cute, in his way, but …”

Listen girlfriend, come on out and say it. Once you’ve had Frasier, every other male is just wasting your time!”

Say it, sister-girl! At least we got our memories – and a memory of Frasier is better than just about any other male in the flesh!”

Frasier – proof that the art of love knows neither age nor season.

P.S. And what of those offspring? Well, I did get an anecdote about one, Barton, who was sold to the Cleveland zoo. He lived a normal life, but at the latter part of it – but at the same age as his legendary dad when Frasier was given the amatory challenge of a lifetime –

They introduced three young lionesses into his compound, for much the same reasons – they were difficult to handle.

He rose to the occasion, but at what cost as he – no delicate way ti put this – copulated himself to death. But he mated all three.

His old man (so to speak) would have been proud.



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