This would be a precious story if it had not begun with a violent and vicious attack upon a twelve-year-old girl. She was abducted by seven men and she was then beaten because they wanted her to marry one of them.
While hitting a child is unacceptable under all circumstances, this is a particularly brutal story. And apparently, in Ethiopia (where this occurred), it is not uncommon for young girls to be abducted, raped, and tortured to get them to agree to marriages.
Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where most of the country’s 71 million people live.
In this particular case, the story has a happier ending than most. And please remember that, in the US, child-abductions are usually carried out by someone acting alone or perhaps by a couple—in either case, a lone good Samaritan (particularly a looming giant like myself) would be enough to frighten off some abductors. That would not be the case with a seven-man kidnapping.
However, there is something that does frighten seven grown men, and that’s lions. Specifically, three lions. The article did not specify anything beyond that they were Ethiopian lions (pretty standard, since they were in Ethiopia), but given that they were working together, I would assume that these were three female* lions.
The girl, who was crying out in pain, was clearly in distress. The three female lions came running up . . . I’d say “like a bat out of hell,” but, honestly, “like three angry lions” sounds way, way scarier. The seven awful attackers ran away (tragically, none of them were mauled or killed). The lions did not attack the girl. They also did not leave. Instead, the three lions guarded the injured child for about half a day, until authorities showed up, at which point the lions stopped guarding and just walked away.
In the words of one of the men who found her, Sgt. Wondimu: “They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest.”
I wish that there were a few lions waiting nearby to spring into action for every act of violence—particularly those against women and children, who are so frequently the victims.
Whether the lions just responded to the general dickishness of a bunch of adults attacking a child or whether they somehow “confused” the cries of distress that the girl made with cries from a lion cub (which I don’t entirely buy—sentient mammals who aren’t psychopaths tend to have an instinctive desire to care for the young, even of enemy species), this is a great story.
Also, I now know enough more about Ethiopia and want to put it higher on my list of “countries that I want to conquer to rescue their people from each other.”
*Among lions, the males grow their big manes and have penises, but the females are the super awesome badass lions. They do the hunting and guard their territory—male lions mostly just contend with rival male lions. And while it sounds like the male gets to lay back while the females do all of the work, remember that the female lions may become fed up and kill the male lion if he is weak or otherwise displeases them. You can find pictures online of male lions in captivity crouching in corners while a female lion growls or roars at the male. Lady lions are badasses.
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