Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday 4 November 2022

Lions Behaving Badly

Did you hear about the family of lions that went on a walkabout at Taronga Zoo this week? Felicity did, and has been inspired.

The recent lion escape story from Taronga Zoo, and a clip that popped up in my Facebook feed sent me down a memory wormhole. 

To provide context, on Wednesday November 2, at 6.30 a.m. a lion and four cubs were seen between two fences at their enclosure in Taronga Zoo. The Zoo runs a luxury experience called Roar and Snore, where people pay to sleep near the lion enclosure. On Wednesday they were woken by keepers and told to run to a toilet block, where they were to remain until the 5 lions, Ato and cubs Khari, Luzuko, Malike and Zuri, could be returned to their enclosure. Read more on this ABC News report.

I recall reading the book, The Happy Lion by Louise Fatio (published in 1954 and still available in some Tasmanian School libraries), where The Happy Lion leaves his enclosure to visit all the people who had come to visit him – and is most surprised that they no longer looked happy to see him. I wonder if Ato and the cubs were equally perplexed?

Vintage Cool Stuff. (2020, June 13). The Happy Lion animated film.

Sally Farrell Odgers’ book The Lion in the Night (ill. Gail Weiss 2004) and Pamela Allen’s A Lion in the Night (1988) explore interactions between humans and lions. 

One of the most famous lions in literature is Aslan, from C.S. Lewis’ the Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956). Aslan acts as a guardian and guide to the humans who rule Narnia. He can be terrifying, but also can be relied upon to rescue and save them.

Aesop’s wrote 28 fables that included lions. His lions were usually arrogant and selfish, but there was always a moral that explained their behaviour.

Many children are more familiar with The Lion King (Disney 1994 and 2019) which feature a range of good and bad lion characters. As a child I watched Kimba the White Lion (Mushi Production 1965). I recall my mum sighing that almost every episode had me in tears. I have also just discovered that it was a Japanese anime production – my children thought they’d introduced me to anime, not!

iamstillmyself. (2007, August 7). Kimba the White Lion theme song.

How I wish that I was back in a primary classroom, so that I could get my class thinking about this escape, and writing the adventures of Ato, Khari, Luzuko, Malike and Zuri. I’m sure there is a book there, just waiting to be written.

…and the lions that popped up in my Facebook feed? They looked like they were just having a really good time. View here.

Felicity Sly
Felicity is a teacher librarian at Don College & the CBCA Tasmania Treasurer


  1. These bring back wonderful memories - a favourite of mine that my mother used to recited and that was available in print format is The Lion and Albert, a poem written by Marriott Edgar. Listen to this audio performance for the pleasure of it: https://youtu.be/qUVzki2j87k

  2. This sent me down a rabbit hole of trying to remember a lion book from my childhood. Turns out it was Margaret Mahy's first book "A lion in the meadow" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Lion_in_the_Meadow