Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cute in a Somewhat Frightening Way

Between my first view of them before the holidays and now, the lion cubs have visibly grown, and several of the cubs from the first litter are already looking adult: their faces are longer, the tufts on their ears are gone, and their dappling of leopard-spots are fading. Although they still occasionally look goofy and childlike, their movements and expressions seem more and more like those of large, creepy predators.

Don’t get me wrong—they’re still pretty cute, but there’s something about them that makes you constantly aware of their carnivorous nature—much more so than with the spectacled bear cubs, either because those guys are omnivores (I’ve seen them eat mulberries) or because I’ve seen too many teddy bears in my life.

Part of what influences my opinion of the lion cubs is their interactions with their mothers. I do understand that mother animals lift their young by the nape of their necks, and that they know what they’re doing when they do this, thankyouverymuch. But lion mothers also seem to like to smack their young down and sort of gnaw on them a bit, and it’s hard to tell whether that’s “tough love,” some kind of punishment, or a strange large-cat whim—but nobody seems to be having much fun:

Sometimes the cubs decide to swat their mother, too:

Maybe that’s what prompts the maternal gnawing…? I just don’t know.

Of course, I’m not saying that the cubs are perpetually scary, or that predators can’t also be cute (so long as they’re not trying to eat you).

I’m just saying that, when one of those bouncy little cubs lowers its head and begins to stalk a sibling with the focused gaze of an animal that brings down gazelle, my amygdala knows what it’s doing.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}

1 comment:

Anca said...

Yes to the last sentence! Ask any dog who's not been so inbred as to lose all senses. Even the stone shape of a lion makes it cringe, let alone the MGM lion roar.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...