Thursday, 22 October 2015

A Lion as Watchdog

    Every night, through the darkened halls and corridors of a stately old English home, there prowls a fully-grown African lion - on the lookout for burglars.
    When his home, the eleventh-century Croyland Abbey in Northamptonshire, was broken into recently, Mr. Howard Stevens decided upon drastic measures to safeguard his valuable collection of antiques. So the fifty-six-year-old man with a new idea in home defence brought Rex, a well-proportioned African lion, from the nearby zoo in the abbey grounds. The animal, I am told, is properly house-trained now and when the Stevens family relax in their lounge Rex curls up at their feet - just like an overgrown sheepdog.
     There seems to be one snag to the arrangement, however. The lion has a daily diet of twelve pounds of horse-meat, incurring a weekly bill of five pounds. An that is quite an expensive burglar-deterrent.
     "I think I'll be content with my Alsatian dog," concludes my correspondent.

Reference: This was copied verbatim from The Wide World, Feb 1958 (NZ edition, Jan. 1958 in the UK), pp 182-3.
     Croyland Abbey was actually built in the 17th century, not the 11th, although there had been a grange on the site in the 12th. As the zoo belonged to the owner, he would have had to meet the expense in any case. According to a government website:
There are many stories relating to Simba the lion, a favourite and much loved pet of the proprietor's family, including his visits to the pub and days out to the cinema.  In fact the cinema event was captured on film by a local newspaper.
     You'd never get away with that today.


  1. In Woking, Surrey in the early 1970s there was a taxi-driver who brought up a lion which he kept sometimes in his parked vehicle near his work. I remember parking my motorcycle next to this vehicle, and being surprised by the lion looking through the partly open passenger window. The whole thing came to a bit of a head when the lion, which used to be seen sometimes being taken out and about in the street, jumped on a woman wearing a fur coat... I have the reports and a cutting somewhere!

  2. "You'd never get away with that today." - There's so much we'd never get away with anymore. We've become an overly paranoid people. (Though I gotta say, lions are one animal I really wouldn't want roaming loose!)