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Chapter no 14

Life of Pi

It is interesting to note that the lion that is the most amenable to the circus trainer’s tricks is the one with the lowest social standing in the pride, the omega animal. It has the most to gain from a close relationship with the super-alpha trainer. It is not only a matter of extra treats. A close relationship will also mean protection from the other members of the pride. It is this compliant animal, to the public no different from the others in size and apparent ferocity, that will be the star of the show, while the trainer leaves the beta and gamma lions, more cantankerous subordinates, sitting on their colourful barrels on the edge of the ring.

The same is true of other circus animals and is also seen in zoos. Socially inferior animals are the ones that make the most strenuous, resourceful efforts to get to know their keepers. They prove to be the ones most faithful to them, most in need of their company, least likely to challenge them or be difficult.

The phenomenon has been observed with big cats, bison, deer, wild sheep, monkeys and many other animals. It is a fact commonly known in the trade.

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