Little Tyke, The Vegetarian Lion

Tyke and Margaret Westbeau
Little Tyke, a lamb and Margaret Westbeau.

I got chills when I read the comment from Kristy on my blog.  She wrote:

I too was very influenced by the story of Born Free as a child and have been a bit obsessed with lions since. The one you featured here really took me aback. Her name was Little Tyke, and I’ve been researching her and the other local pet lions of the Puget Sound. There was a glut of them after WWII, and, at the time, few exotic animal laws to prevent people from keeping them as backyard pets, as was the case with Little Tyke. She lived her entire life on a ranch in my hometown of Auburn, Washington (1946-1955).

Kristy wrote a whole article about Little Tyke.    I was about to get to know that lion in the poster that hung on my closet door a little better.  As a kid I used to love to just look at that poster.  I was enchanted with the lion.  She touched sometime inside of me that I couldn’t understand and I didn’t know what to do about it.  So I just looked.

At different times in my life I’ve tried to understand my attachment to that image, and I’ve thought different things at different times, but I don’t wonder anymore.  Not after my journey on Wednesday.

You can read more about Little Tyke, who didn’t eat meat and was friends with all the animals on the Ranch where she lived in Kristy Lommen’s  article “Little Tyke, the Lea Hill Lioness.”

Thanks Kristy.


2 thoughts on “Little Tyke, The Vegetarian Lion

  1. Wow, Maria, thanks for sharing my excitement about Little Tyke. Who knew that a lion who lived for a handful of years in the 1940s/1950s could still wield such influence today? Even after writing the article about Little Tyke, I still didn’t understand why on earth a zoo would hand out a lion cub, almost for the asking. I kept researching and discovered it wasn’t just Little Tyke–they handed out several of Alice’s cubs in the ensuing years merely because they didn’t have the personnel to hand-raise rejected lion cubs. These cubs instead became novelty pets for people who knew absolutely nothing about raising such unique animals. Different times, for sure. And crazy stories–maybe someday I’ll write a book. In the meantime, thanks again for sharing her story!

    1. Thank you Kristy. I know a few years ago people could still get and raise lion and tiger cubs with out restrictions. I don’t know if that’s still true. But I always wondered what they were thinking would happen when they grow up. Tyke’s is an amazing story and I would imagine really unusual.

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