Back in 2015, most of the country was shocked to hear that an American hunter had lured a lion out of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park and killed him. I am not a hunter, and no one in my immediate family hunts, so I didn’t understand. I can rationalize shooting an animal that you will eat, but I’ve never heard anyone say that they eat lion meat. A senseless waste.

I read true animal stories to third grade each year since they write reports on wild animals. I bought Cecil’s Pride by Craig Hatkoff hoping the students would read it. I think I may be the first to read it. have read Knut to my classes and they love Hatkoff’s writing.

Until I read this book I had no idea how truly amazing Cecil was.

Cecil’s life was very typical for a male lion. He was even casual with tourists on photo safaris, seeming to pose for them.

He had established a pride with his brother before being challenged by another lion. The rival lion killed Cecil’s brother and it seemed Cecil had made enemies not only of the rival but also his sons.
Cecil eventually crossed paths with the son of the rival, named Jericho, and they fought. Lion researcher Brent Stapelkamp thought it would end badly for one of the lions, but the unimaginable happened. Cecil and Jericho became friends and started working together!

Unrelated males rarely cooperate so researchers were amazed by these events. Sadly, when Cecil was lured to his death, Jericho disappeared for a short time as well. When he was found, he was within the borders of the park, close to where Cecil had crossed the boundary, calling for Cecil.

By lion hierarchy, Jericho could now take over the pride and kill Cecil’s offspring–this ensures that the lionesses will mate with him to continue his bloodline. But Jericho didn’t hurt them, he allowed them to live, almost as if in honor of Cecil’s memory.

We are all our brothers’ keeper. And out of tragedy and darkness, a new king shall always arise.

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