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.
Note: Information gathered, courtesy: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,11069-2536147,00.html, http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/gtownsend/bl-gtownsend-aesopfab-1.htm and Wikipedia.
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: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1290483.ece)