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U3A Writing: Big Boy And Little Boy

John Ricketts had a surprise visitor at the school in which he was teaching in what was then Northern Rhodesia.

One day shortly after we arrived in Kalomo a Land Rover pulled up outside the school. A man got out and walked up the steps towards my office, I went out to greet him and he introduced himself.

My name is Norman Carr. Im the game warden from Kafue. I was in town shopping when Nayee suggested that the children might like to see what Ive got in the back of the Land Rover.

I walked over and in the back were three tiny lion cubs. He gave me one to carry and picked up the other two himself. All the children were excited to see and hold the cubs. Though they lived in Africa, few, not more than a couple of them, had ever seen a lion and none of them had ever touched one. Imagine three kittens with sharp claws and needle teeth spitting and hissing and then multiply the size by ten. Those then were the lion cubs.

Norman Carr told the children that he had found the mother lion badly wounded with a spear wound in the shoulder. The lioness had attacked and he had had to kill her. When she was dead he found that she had been defending her family. He and his assistant Johnny Uys, were feeding the cubs every few hours with special milk formula and hoped to rear them to full grown lions.

It was several months later before I saw the cubs again and how they had grown There were only two cubs left Big Boy and Little Boy. It seemed that they found that they could not manage the three and so had given the other to someone else to look after.

We were on our annual visit to a game reserve and we had chosen the nearest, Kafue. We had only just arrived at the camp when a Land Rover came racing in and Johnny Uys jumped out and sat on the nearest picnic bench. He had only just settled when the two cubs came racing up. Both tried to jump on his lap which was too small for even one to get on. They were climbing all over him and looked as if they were trying to lick him to death.

They were as playful as puppies but as large as alsatians. The next morning I was filling my car with petrol from a jerry can, leaning over so that I would not spill any, one of the cubs, Little Boy I think, came stalking up behind me not making a sound. He opened his jaws and took a nip at my backside which was sticking out towards him. I jumped a mile and you could almost see the grin on its face as it waited for me to chase it.

Elizabeth was carrying Mark towards the car and she had seen everything that had happened. She was so convulsed with laughter that she stepped on a loose manhole cover and fell down the hole. I was so anxious that neither she nor Mark were hurt that I disappointed Little Boy by not chasing him.

Norman Carr wrote a book about Big Boy and Little Boy telling how he taught them to hunt and how he later released them into the wild.

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