Posted by Cris on July 7, 2007
This is a bit delayed, forgive me.
A few weeks ago, thanks to some people connected to Amy in Corvallis who donated money, we were able to take the kids from Atetegeb, plus some caretakers, to the lion zoo in Addis for the morning. The lion zoo, if Im not mistaken, is Haile Selassie’s old personal lion zoo, where he kept his collection of Abysinnian lions. Now open to the public, its a drab affair, to tell the truth, compared to all the “animals have rights”-type zoos we in the western world are all used to. There are maybe 10-12 lions, living as couples in pie-shaped concrete cages, complete with bars and all. This is the zoo that made news a year ago or so because they were killing the baby lions and selling them to taxidermists because they didnt have enough money to feed them. They dont do this any more.
We arrived at the compund in the morning to find all the kids washed, combed, and primped into their best clothes. They were exuding palpable energy and excitement, which skyrocketed once the vans arrived in the compound. For some of the kids, those too small to go to govermnment school, this was their first time out of the compound, besides doctor’s visits, in about 10 months. In my bus the kids were singing the whole way, but Amy said the kids in hers were all silent, staring out the windows.
We arrived and, of course, immediately caused problems. The ticket window people arent used to seeing 2 farenjis and about 40 habesha coming all at once. They were all in a tizzy for a bit, but we got it all figured out and paid, then unleashed ourselves upon the lions.
The kids loved it- space, lions, new things to see. They commented on the lions, squealed when I said was going to feed them to said lions, and commented on everything from the bars on the cages to the “bal na mist” (man and wife) pairings, to the giant sized lion poo.
The kids were perfect ladies and gentlemen too. No crying, running off, or pestering others. Senait, who is in a wheelchair, was even greeting and shaking the hands of everyone who passed her, like a queen in her throne.
After seeing the lions it was play time, with slides, swings and a carousel-like car ride at their disposal. And, most importantly, icecream.
A huge success. Thanks to anyone reading who made it possible.