My grandfather used to be the lionkeeper at the Berlin zoo before WWII. Here are some pictures that I dug out of the family archives.
According to my mother, the lions at the zoo belonged to Hitler. My grandfather – who hated Hitler, but loved lions – was his lionkeeper. Every so often, when Hitler wasn’t out for the day engaging in a spot of genocide, he would visit the zoo to see his animals. In this picture, the crowd of people in the forefront are waiting for Hitler’s arrival. Apparently. It isn’t every day that one goes to the zoo in one’s best high heel shoes and suits.
However, the lionesses were in sexual ‘heat’ and opted to stay hidden in their lairs with the lions. So my grandfather and one of his workers carried a lioness out so the people could see her. My grandfather is the one carrying the lioness’ shoulders.
The lioness was not happy. As soon as they put her down in front of the crowd . . .
. . . she walked back to where she wanted to be.
So they dug out the cubs and put them on display. . .
Notice everyone heads turned to the left. Hitler had arrived. Apparently, no one was there to see the lions. Except for my grandfather. He is the one at the right of the picture . . . the one keeping an eye on the lioness . . . the one walking away.
And thus ends our mini-history lesson . . .