Run Away!

Nyack’s Post Mortem

[Zuni, a lioness, killed Nyack, the lion, at the Indianapolis Zoo on October 22, 2018. The media describes the event–the information below is from public media–but these are his conjectural last reflections]

I tried to run away. Zuri was “aggressive”—even the humans knew that. I’m “submissive” and “laid back”—and I’m dead.

If we were on the savanna I wouldn’t be dead. I’d run. She’s fast and she’s my size, but I would be faster then. But we were in a zoo. There was nowhere to run. A cage is a cage is a cage.

How was I supposed to be courageous? The lion on the yellow brick road in the “Wizard of Oz” got to be brave just because he wished for it. I should be so lucky. I’ve lived in a zoo my whole life. Outside the zoo—in the wild—I would have learned to be arrogant and dominant because I would have fought all those aggressive young bastards who were after my “pride” of lionesses and cubs. I hardly have a pride here at all. My pride was only 1 lioness, Zuri, and 3 cubs. I would have done better outside.

People tell strange stories about me. They couldn’t account for my death because, after all, Zuri had been my “long term companion” for 8 years, and she and I had 3 cubs. So? They make it sound like we’re people. Male people generally have one wife. If people have a few kids they don’t usually kill each other, especially when a kid is in the room.

Should lions be like that? Put 2 lions and 3 cubs in a cage for years and years, and you might expect the unexpected. It’s ‘unexpected’ for people’s behaviour, of course. At least Packer, from the Lion Research Center, knew that “it’s something that can happen”, that “these animals are unpredictable moment to moment”.

The people at the zoo think my death is sad. Apparently I was “just like a family member.”

I would rather be treated like a lion.


Postcard above, nd (1940s?), depicts former practice of raising lions and dogs together to facilitate lion training.

All data is from and general information. The attitude is supplied by the editor.

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