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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11 (February 1, 1938)

A Bitch Suckles Lion Cubs

A Bitch Suckles Lion Cubs.

Wirths have a couple of performing tigers which were born of jungle-bred
“The artists have their own individual primus stoves… .”

“The artists have their own individual primus stoves… .”

parents in the Auckland zoo. This matter of birth in captivity raises singular problems.

In the first year of the Great War six lion cubs, emblematic of the great effort, were born near Cambridge. But nature makes provision for the mother to feed only four. Two of them were, therefore, fostered on to a bull bitch. page 22 They remained with the dog until they were half grown, and always, after they were separated, when they saw any bull dog they seemed to be looking for their foster mother.

They had been parted for two years when the bitch rejoined the circus, and a scene of excited mutual recognition took place. Naturally she was not put in with them again. But one of the circus staff with thirty-five years of the wonders of the show behind him, declared almost scripturally, that if she had been the lions would have lain down with the dog—and the dog alive.

Miss Doris Wirth tells a little story, too, which reveals the affection in which the kiddies were held by an old lion tamer, and this sentimental touch is quite in the old tradition. Its setting is Herterton, in North Queensland, where the peanuts grow. An hotel keeper there received the following note:

“Consigned to Mr.—one female child, aged twelve years, with two £1 notes and one pony. Will Mr.—kindly feed and stable the horse, pay for child's entrance to the circus, give her bed and breakfast, keeping the change out of the £2 for expenses, and return child and pony to her grateful parent next morning.”

The lion tamer had probably talked with the little girl or else he had a soft heart for the thousands of children whose eyes had grown round with his bravery, for he cajoled the hotel keeper into giving up that letter to him, and until he died he could never be persuaded to part with it.

The circus dares more than physical risks. It is an uncertain financial venture, and the business man who thinks of the door takings with a vagrant envy can go back to his ledger contented. There are good years, but there are also bad ones. If a five-year period yields a five per cent. profit, that is lucky.

The flap of the circus tent is rolled up after the show and the feet of mild burgesses swish home through the long grass of the paddock, home to peaceful dreams again. But sixty men are already reloading gear on to the trucks by torchlight. There are little stabs of flashlight in the dark and the prosaic magic of the refolding of the tents. But strip it of glamour and consider the cost. One expense item alone runs to four figures.

In the dark the 500-ton train is packed up again—sixty-seven ordinary carriage lengths, eighty-seven passengers, besides wild animals. With the dawn it is gone.

Snuff-taking is coming into vogue again in London's smartest circles, according to a special correspondent. Gold snuff-boxes, the lids sometimes encrusted with gems, are often seen at society functions, it seems, members of both sexes indulging in the new-old habit. West End tobacconists consider this is just a passing craze and will soon be forgotten. Snuffing, a hundred years ago, or more, was universal. But there were comparatively few smokers then. To-day it takes countless thousands of tons of tobacco every year to keep the world's pipe alight—to say nothing about cigarettes. Here in New Zealand the brands credited with the largest sales are the “toasted” ones, Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead), Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold. The first three are the choicest of all pipe tobaccos; the other two make cigarettes of rare fragrance and most delicious aroma. The purity of all these famous blends is one of their outstanding merits. Toasting it is that rids them of most of their nicotine. They're as safe as they're enjoyable.*