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Chapter 13
So you see, if you fall into a lion's pit, the reason the lionwill tear you to pieces is not because it's hungry – be assured,zoo animals are amply fed – or because it's bloodthirsty, butbecause you've invaded its territory. As an aside, that is why acircus trainer must always enter the lion ring first, and in fullsight of the lions. In doing so, he establishes that the ring ishis territory, not theirs, a notion that he reinforces by shouting,by stomping about, by snapping his whip. The lions areimpressed. Their disadvantage weighs heavily on them. Noticehow they come in: mighty predators though they are, "kings ofbeasts", they crawl in with their tails low and they keep to theedges of the ring, which is always round so that they havenowhere to hide. They are in the presence of a stronglydominant male, a super-alpha male, and they must submit tohis dominance rituals. So they open their jaws wide, they situp, they jump through paper-covered hoops, they crawlthrough tubes, they walk backwards, they roll over. "He's aqueer one," they think dimly. "Never seen a top lion like him.
But he runs a good pride. The larder's always full and – let'sbe honest, mates – his antics keep us busy. Napping all thetime does get a bit boring. At least we're not riding bicycles likethe brown bears or catching flying plates like the chimps."Only the trainer better make sure he always remains superalpha. He will pay dearly if he unwittingly slips to beta. Muchhostile and aggressive behaviour among animals is theexpression of ............
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