Saturday 17 March 2018

I'm sorry to sound hard-hearted, but we are definitely not Cecil

There has been a ludicrous outbreak of sentimentality over the Zimbabwean lion

CENTRE OF STORM: Dentist and hunter Walter Palmer
CENTRE OF STORM: Dentist and hunter Walter Palmer
Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

'Together let's keep the spirit of Cecil alive," tweets one of the many self-appointed Chief Mourners over the hashtag #cecilthelion. Look, guys, I'm as soft-hearted about animals as the next person, and have had for many years a standing order for Compassion in World Farming to prove it, but I am, if you'll forgive the expression, foxed by this.

What exactly is the "spirit of Cecil", who, as far as I know, behaved like any other successful lion, which was essentially to live the life of a bit of an idle scrounger? That is, he spent about 20 hours a day being a layabout and the rest of the time sauntering around his territory reminding everyone that he was the top banana or scoffing the best bits of whatever dead animal the lionesses had brought home to feed the family.

Cecil was handsome and had clearly been good at seeing off the competition over the years, so he had six lionesses and 12 cubs in his two prides, along with some other lion who for traditional reasons I haven't quite grasped was allowed to dally with whatever female Cecil didn't fancy, as long as he didn't annoy the old man.

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