The Truth About Lions

Abigail Tucker in Smithsonian Magazine:

ScreenHunter_07 Jan. 10 16.15 Since arriving in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park only that morning, I’d gaped at wildebeests on parade, dawdling baboons, gazelles rocketing by, oxpecker birds hitching rides atop Cape buffaloes, hippos with bubblegum-colored underbellies. The Serengeti usually dazzles first-time visitors, Packer had warned, making us giddy with an abundance of idyllic wildlife straight out of a Disney song-and-dance number.

The sublime brute only 15 feet away was my first wild Panthera leo. Male African lions can be ten feet long and weigh 400 pounds or more, and this one appeared to be pushing the limits of its species. I was glad to be inside a truck.

Packer, though, opened the door and hopped out. He snatched a stone and tossed it in the big male’s direction.

The lion raised its head. Its handsome face was raked with claw marks.

Packer threw another stone. Unimpressed, the lion briefly turned its back, showing hindquarters as smooth as cast bronze. The beast yawned and, nestling its tremendous head on its paws, shifted its gaze to us for the first time. Its eyes were yellow and cold like new doubloons.

This was one of The Killers.

More here.