Mon | Dec 5, 2016

Eye on lion in Zion

Published:Sunday | February 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM

I'm thinking we should probably allow the veterinarians up at Hope Zoo dealing with Lucas the lion and his new mate, Jasmine, to assist us with family-life training in Jamaica. Serious! Things might improve.

There was a time not so long ago when civilisation and culture were thought to give us avenues and skills to contain, inhibit, and improve upon our animal natures. Now I think we might shock the lions.

One of the great pleasures of chilling in the West Indies is to just hear people talk. There is our knack for inventively himproving Hinglish, and also formulating the perfect phrase to encapsulate a whole fascinating world view: like last week when a woman gave me that old favourite, "Is five pickney mi get."

What I enjoy about that particular wording is that the appearance of children is like a happening over which one exercises no control. They just turn up, like rain. All the parts about choice in the input have been linguistically removed, and therefore, responsibility for the output is commensurately

diminished.

By the way, let me head off one accusation: I'm not on any high horse here, because I'm certainly in no position to judge. I'm just observing and reporting as a columnist. I can confidently report that not one of my own children was planned - at least not by me. So I'm in exactly the same position as the lady I was talking to. Mi get dem! And I'm happy for the gift.

Anyway, these were my musings when The Gleaner reported that a lioness named Jasmine had been imported to join Lucas up at Hope Zoo.

My first thought was: "Yes! Lucas get through!" But being politically correct, I immediately arrested the thought. Because who is to say whether Lucas wants a wife? After all, these are

modern times, and maybe he's a modern cat with advanced concepts about

mating. Nowadays I assume nothing.

Plus, who is to say that the new lioness wants to be dealing with Lucas? Suppose that's not to her fancy? Even this business of importing the male first seems vaguely sexist.

So it struck me as odd that the UWI 'theorists' who tell us that gender is a

voluntary category, chosen regardless of the toolkit you were born with, didn't travel down the road to Hope Zoo and interview Lucas before the expense and trouble of importing him a mate.

These ridiculous old-school zookeepers are clearly not up to date with their

postmodern reading! Just because Lucas is a man-lion they brought him a woman-lion. The whole exercise is

prefaced on gender-normative presuppositions and biases.

And while this injustice was taking place right undah wi nose, there was not a peep from JFJ, J-FLAG, or J-Date.

Self-discipline & portion control

Not to mention the issue of whether Jasmine is a mampi or a slimmaz. All I will say is that if she shape like de economy, it means she's finally exercising some self-discipline and portion control.

But again, there's no evidence that the size preferences of the two beasts were considered. Both Lucas and Jasmine may find themselves in an awkward situation, wanting to decline engagement while a nation awaits the birth of Simba.

All lions are cats, but it turns out some cats are fish. In the old days, these were called catfish and it wasn't really a big problem. But now an invasive species called lionfish has invaded native waters, and even in that special fish bowl called Parliament this argument buss big big. And remember it was raised by J.C. Hutchinson, spokesman on fisheries, whose job it is to observe and report these things. Old-time people seh if whale come from river bottom and tell yuh seh fish dung deh yuh mus believe him ... sumting like dat.

But back to the zookeepers and these lions. What really shocked me was when this newspaper said that the animals are to be caged away from each other for an initial period, presumably so they can 'talk' before commencing further activity. To me, this was proof that is farrin dem come fram, and that the lions and trainers were tourists.

Let me explain. I was at a popular hangout spot the other day when it dawned on me that talking is as old-fashioned as those suitcase-size cell phones. A crowd of teenagers milled around each other until a male identified a suitable female (or vice versa) and just started stabbing away. Also, sometimes a female would identify another female and stabbery would ensue.

Still I wonder how Jamaicanised Lucas has become since he was deported? Truth is, this Christmas season I attended a party at Hope Gardens and I know Lucas was overhearing the pounding music and taking lessons from the high priests of dancehall. This got me thinking, and ultimately worrying. I knew they were finding a partner for Lucas, and my worry was that when one was found, young Lucas might pattern his mating technique from the lyrics he was hearing.

Come yah gyal mi wi mek yuh belly swell

Friends are free, so cats nuh fi sell (my translation)

Gimme yuh numba fi yuh Digicel

Cuz ah long time yuh waan breed fi Kartel

I'm supposing Lucas likely identifies with nobody so much as the genius Kartel, who is also penned up for fear of his capabilities when out and about unconstrained.

Here's parting advice for the zookeepers. You'd better commence the hunt for an additional lioness right away. If Lucas settles here, he won't want to be the only 'one-burner' lion in town. Plus, what will happen when the party is raging in the Gardens and the selectors draw for "Wifey walk out; matey stan up!?" For Jasmine to determine her lane, there has to be competition, don't it?

n Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.