Thursday, July 23, 2009

A story of a warm hug and a kiss... of gratitude...!

Recently, while surfing the net... I came across this heart-warming news and was charmed. I feel like to share this wonderful story with you as well. It is a story of an unusual bond... of the warmth of gratitude and thankfulness.

In Cali, Colombia, through the bars of his cage, an African lion named 'Jupiter' stretches his giant paws and clasps Ana Julia Torres before giving her a kiss. It is a 'kiss of gratitude'... and gratitude is the sign of noble souls. The sight of a lion rearing up on its hind legs would leave most people quaking with fear... but a kiss and cuddle with the friendly 'King of the forest' is all part of a day's work for animal lover Ana Julia Torres. She has formed an extraordinary friendship with the big cat. The 'King' is her pride... and she, his joy. As an onlooker said: "It was amazing to see an animal of that size acting so affectionately."

You can watch the video, courtesy YouTube: HERE. A second video... courtesy YouTube again, can be viewed: HERE.

Ms Torres, a teacher by profession, earned the affection of Jupiter, a 110kg (242lb) African lion, by nursing him back to health after rescuing him from a traveling circus... six years ago... from a life of abuse and malnutrition. Jupiter was severely emaciated then. Now, he is one of about 800 previously maltreated residents at her "Villa Lorena" animal shelter (which she founded 16 years ago) in a poor suburb of the city. Jupiter is relatively lucky... compared to a mountain lion that had been kept illegally as a pet. Both its front legs were hacked off after it clawed at a family member's face. I wonder... how human beings (Homo sapiens sapiens - Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man")... supposed to be the wisest and the most evolved among all other species on earth, can behave in such a crude and cruel manner. Any answers... ???

"It is amazing to see an animal like that be so sweet and affectionate," said Torres. "This hug is the most sincere one that I have received in my life." Torres, 47, said her work... of rehabilitating animals began more than a decade ago when a friend gave her an owl that had been kept as a pet. Later, when she asked her students to bring their pets to school, she realized many families illegally kept wild fauna from Colombia's biologically diverse jungles in their homes. The number of animals under her care grew, and now Jupiter is one among 800 recovering inmates/residents at "Villa Lorena", where Torres looks after, among others, burned peacocks, limbless flamengos, blind monkeys and mutilated elephants. Most of the animals are caged, though some, like iguanas, roam freely around the grounds of the shelter, which are enclosed by a 13-foot wall. Torres said she relies on donations and her modest teacher's salary to run the shelter. "We dedicate our lives to the care of these animals without one single peso from the state," Torres said.... adding that many of the animals were rejected as infants by their parents in the wild or found abandoned on the streets of Cali. Since she opposes exhibiting animals in circuses, she decided to keep her shelter closed to the public... and she is adamant that it will remain that way. "We want the animals to live in peace. This is a paradise where they can finally rest." One never knows in what form God appears... to help those who are in pain and in need of help. For these abandoned and traumatized birds and animals... God has appeared in the form of Ana Julia Torres. Let's all wish her well, and much success.

This extraordinary bond of friendship between two completely different species reminded me of another story... the story of 'Androcles and the Lion' (from the Aesop's Fables). A story that has stayed with me ever since I read it as a child - because it illustrates so clearly how becoming aware of the wounds the instinct carries and healing them brings rich rewards in the arena of life. Apart from reinforcing the following... time tested and well proven... morals: "A friend in need is a friend indeed" and that "one good deed deserves another". Let me narrate this story again...

Androcles was a Roman slave who had been taken to North Africa. He tried to escape to the coast and return to Rome. He knew that if he were caught he would be killed, so he waited until the nights were dark and moonless before creeping out of his master's house and stealing through the town into the open country. He hurried as fast as he could but when day broke he found that instead of reaching the sea coast, he was in a forest. He was tired, frightened, hungry and thirsty. Seeing a cave in the side of some cliffs, he crept into it, lay down and very soon fell asleep. He was awakened by a terrible roar and to his horror, saw a huge lion standing at the entrance to the cave. Androcles had been sleeping in the lion's den. There was no escape. The great lion barred the way. Androcles waited for the lion to spring on him and kill him but it did not move. Instead, it moaned and licked one of its paws that seemed to be bleeding. Seeing that the animal was in great pain, Androcles overcame his fear and came forward. The lion held up its paw, as if asking for help. Androcles then saw that a huge thorn had become embedded in the paw... cut it and made it swell. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the lion. Relieved of pain, the grateful lion licked his hand, then limped out of the cave, and in a few minutes returned with a dead rabbit, which it laid at Androcles' feet. When he had managed to light a fire, cooked and eaten it, the lion led him to a spring of fresh water gushing out of the earth. For three years, man and lion lived in the cave... quite happily... with the lion bringing him food everyday. Then... one day, both Androcles and the lion were captured.

Androcles was sent as a fugitive slave to Rome. There he was condemned to be killed by wild beasts in the Colosseum on the first public holiday. A vast multitude of spectators came to see the sight, including the Emperor. Androcles was pushed into the great open space and a lance was thrust into his hand. With this, he was told, he was to defend himself against the powerful lion which had been kept for days without food to make it savage and fierce. Androcles trembled when the ravenous lion sprang out of its cage with a terrible roar, and the lance shook in his grasp as the great beast came bounding up to him. But instead of knocking him to the ground with a blow of it's paw, it began to lick his hands. To his great amazement... Androcles saw that it was the same lion with which he had lived in the forest. He patted it and leaned on it's head and cried. All the spectators marvelled at the strange scene and the astonished Emperor sent for Androcles, asking him for an explanation. Upon hearing Androcles' tale, so surprised (and delighted) was the Emperor that he immediately ordered the slave (Androcles) to be pardoned and freed, and released the lion into the forest, too.

Androcles had two encounters with the lion: the first was in the wilderness, the lion’s domain; the second in the Roman arena, symbolically the arena of life. There are, even in this children's story, undertones of heroic myth... telling the story of the man who makes the journey into the wilderness of his soul, there... to be reconciled with the instinctual powers symbolized by the lion, whose wound he heals. He then makes the return journey into the world. There, in the fearful arena of life, instead of having his life destroyed by the wounded and enraged animal, he has its support and friendship. To make friends with the lion and to take the thorn out of it;s paw is to receive the protection and guidance of the instinctual powers of the soul.

Homo sapiens sapiens: A human is a member of a species of bipedal primates in the family Hominidae (taxonomically Homo sapiens - Latin: "wise man" or "knowing man").

Androcles and the Lion is a 1912 play written by George Bernard Shaw. Androcles and the Lion is Shaw's retelling of the tale of Androcles, a slave who is saved by the requited mercy of a lion. A film version, Androcles and the Lion was made of the play in 1952, produced by Gabriel Pascal. A later film version is from 1973, produced by Ronald Smedley.


In Cali, Colombia, through the bars of his cage, an African lion named 'Jupiter' stretches his giant paws and clasps Ana Julia Torres before giving her a kiss. It is a 'kiss of gratitude'. (Photo courtesy:


  1. wonder...if lioon breath is as bad as dog breath...[:D]
    btw...comment box was not visible yesterday...

  2. I have always liked animals,, and the more i know them i realise how pathetic humans are,, If there is anything called true love then that happens only between the animal and the man..

    androcals that chapter was there in our school text too,, one of the few stories that i cud recall..

  3. @ Ravan (SiD): "Comments box... not visible yesterday"...??? Oh! There must have been some problem with blogspot then...

    Bad, bad blogspot... no donut for you...!

    P.S. I have had and still have pet dogs and pups. Their breath don't stink... they are chooooooo cute! :)

  4. @ Uncommon Sense: Absolutely! :)

  5. Well,
    I'll tell you another story. The woman who nursed the lion is an angel according to me. She had the tolerance and bravery to face a lion, lest kiss it. But we people do not even have a small percent of the love for animals. Since the past one month a pack of dogs entered our college (it is huge!). The students fed them with left overs and stuff. They didnt cause any harm and were always on their way!. But, yesterday, I saw the gory scene of dog being beaten up and dragged with a rope mercilessly while it was half alive! I felt like hurting the man doing that on spot by my manners and ahimsa policies stopped me from doing that!
    It is funny, some people go to the extremes and others even don't care!

    Good one again Roshmi!
    Keep posting stuff like this from time to time!

  6. WoW! An amazing friend to have!

  7. Ahhh nostalgia of English textbooks hit me after I read the story again.

  8. @ Pawan: You're right! I too cannot fathom how people can be so merciless, so cruel and unkind.

    But incidents like the one narrated in my post... serve to restore our faith in our fellow humans. I wish there were many more like Ms. Torres.

  9. @ Shilpa: You bet! Wonderful... na???

  10. @ Reema: True! Panchatantra, Hitopodesha, Aesop's Fables, Arabian Nights, ACK and Tinkle.. to name a few... will stay with us forever. We can never outgrow them... and thank God for that! :)

  11. wow...the video was awesome! thanks for sharing:)
    & thanks for narrating the fable..I had read it years back and forgotten it..till today!

    Just goes to show that every being feels gratitude & love..well except some humans...

  12. hey, you seem to be bitten by the Antarctica bug. I see you have hunted down a few more Antarctica blogs. Nice going

  13. @ Choco: Nice to know... this post reminded you about the lovely tale.

    Human beings are becoming cruder and cruder and more cruel by the day... wonder where we are headed as a society...

  14. @ Abhijeet: I read up a lot... and love to read travelogues. Antartica is mesmerising... to say the least!

    I have been reading travel blogs... to the West Indies, Chattisgarh, etc. No bias :)

  15. Roshmi, your posts are really amazing! Loved the video too ... btw, regarding the Lions and the Roman Games ... you forgot the Asterix connection ... read Asterix and the Centurion right? ... the thought gives me the stitches!!!! ...

  16. @ Subhayan: Thank you! :)

    P.S. How could you... ??? How could you say that I forgot "Asterix"... ?!! Thats one of my all time fav comics. Not done!

    As I have said in an earlier comment... "Asterix" will require a whole new post.

  17. arre na ... didnt mean that ... but Asterix is THE best and Tintin is a veeery close!!!! ... Uderzo died I think ... and Goscinny does both writing and drawing now ... I remember one place where the Gauls attacked the Roman army from the back ... so the Romans started yelling "Our back is being attacked ! Our back is being attacked!" next order comes from front : "About turn!"

    hence: the "back" got saved !!! amazing? what say?

  18. @ अनिल कान्त: Thanks and welcome to my blog!

  19. @ Subhayan: Hey! I find it difficult to compare the "Tintin" series with the "Asterix" series. Both differ in their themes and topics... completely.

    P.S. I remember the incident you have narrated here. Its hillarious :D

    The "Asterix" series is a satire on the events and goings on in the world... and done very well, indeed!

  20. Cool Lion :). I wudn't mind having a snap with it. Great video too .
    Congrats for being second at indiblogger.

  21. androcles and the lion.. back 2 school it felt:)
    anothr nice post roshmi.. keep thm cuming:)

  22. Wow this story is something!

    It takes a lot of courage though, to look after a wild animal (a lion nonetheless)!

    Kudos to that woman.

  23. @ BrownPhantom: Thanks a bunch!

    P.S. To be snapped with 'Jupiter'... you got to travel to Cali Colombia...

  24. @ Vipul: I know :)

    This story has stayed with me ever since I read it as a child. Wonderful story!

  25. @ Miss M: You bet! :)

    I wish.. there are many more good souls like Ms. Torres. This planet needs them...

  26. Loved your post, the lion being my favorite of all four-legged creatures :)

  27. @ theishu: :)

    The lion is truly 'majestic' and my favourite too! Dogs being a close runner-up, though...