Would you wrestle food from lion? – Blaise Tapp

Blaise Tapp would be happy to have a tug-of-war with a lion
Blaise Tapp would be happy to have a tug-of-war with a lion
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When it comes to family days out, there is nowhere that comes close to the zoo for providing good old fashioned wholesome fun for so many of us.

The zoo is where the vast majority of urban dwellers first clap eyes on an exotic creature which, if like me, you hail from somewhere such as Stockport, could easily be anything other than a pigeon or a three-legged dog. There aren’t many places that are as joyfully madcap as the monkey house and nothing comes close to replicating the peculiar odour that emanates from the elephant quarters.

Trips to Chester Zoo back in the early 1980s form some of my earliest memories and I dare say that is the case for many born during the era of corduroy and Noel Edmonds as, back then, shiny theme parks weren’t really a thing.

But not everybody loves zoos and the brand of entertainment that they represent, a fact evidenced by the almighty fuss that was created during last week’s half-term when television cameras and journalists descended on Dartmoor Zoo in Devon.

This particular zoo is now seared into a nation’s consciousness as canny bosses are giving paying customers the chance to play tug-of-war with a ruddy great lion or tiger, which are now regularly fed a piece of meat attached to a rope, for £15. 

Not every animal lover is happy and, of course, there is the obligatory online petition. Their argument is that the act of people attempting to wrestle away the big cats’ dinner in the name of fun strips these proud beasts of their dignity.

This is a view held by PETA, the animal rights organisation, which also made headlines last week when it took great exception to Google celebrating the birthday of the late, great Australian animal conservationist and television personality Steve Irwin. 

The ire directed at PETA, which once represented a monkey in a selfie copyright lawsuit, was ferocious, such was the level of affection for Irwin right across the globe.

Yes, animals have a right to mind their own business, but if it wasn’t for zoos and characters such as Irwin, the natural world would be a mystery to many.