Daniel was a lion cub that I had the privilege to care for several years ago. I was working at an animal park that rescued exotic animals. Most of the animals we had were previously purchased as pets by someone else. Quickly people discover that a lion or a tiger is not just a really big house cat and that they can not be trained like a dog. And even others discover that the baby alligator is not like some cute desert lizard. And unlike the mammal cats, the reptile alligator won't ever even decide it likes you. Zoos will not take these animals usually bred for profit. So, what to do? That is where we came in. We took those animals and tried to provide them with a safe and caring environment.
Daniel was brought to us at 2 1/2 months old after he had received a horrible head injury leaving him semi comatose. He was filthy and in very bad condition. I took one look at him and fell in love with this pitiful creature. What I didn't realize at the time was that I needed Daniel more than he needed me. I spent 12 hour days with him the first week with him draped across my chest so he could hear my heartbeat. Not only did he eventually wake up and begin to fight to live, but also he and I had developed a very strong bond.
I wanted to name Daniel some really cool African name, since that was all of Africa he would ever know. But I was outvoted and he became Daniel. His injury at the back of his head left him with optic nerve damage and coordination and balance problems. He saw many doctors of various kinds. Much of it helped. But the veterinary acupuncture made the most difference.
Daniel was very affectionate and if I got about 6 inches from his face, I could ask him for a kiss and he would reach over and rub the side of his face on each side of my face. And he loved to rock. We had a special rocking chair that we would rock in when his head hurt. It comforted him. And later, well he just loved to rock for the fun of it.
At thirteen months of age Daniel started to have grand mal seizures as a result of his injury. Eventually one particularly bad seizure was so severe and he was not able to escape it. He died in my arms.
Daniel was so precious to me. He brought healing to the little girl's heart inside of me in many ways. God used Daniel to teach me of His unconditional and constant love and that there is hope for healing in the grace of God.
I will always treasure the memories of my days with Daniel. But the truth is Daniel should never have existed. He was the result of breeding on a farm in the US that makes money by breeding and selling exotic animals - a place where he was abused. These animals should not be here. They should not be in cages. They should be in the wild in Africa (or other places for some animals) where they belong.