When I learned yesterday of the death of a volunteer at a rare cat wildlife refuge ( Coroner: Lion escaped from cage – SFGate ), I was speechless. It was a great tragedy. But which was the greater – the loss of intern, Dianna Hanson, or of Cous Cous, the rare Barbary lion?
There is no good or right answer here. Both were unique.
It could be argued that Cous Cous was the more rare, as Barbary lions (Panthera leo leo) are extinct in the wild (beginning in Tripoli in 1700 with the final known wild lion shot and killed in Morocco in 1922). Also known as the Atlas lion, they are regarded as the largest and heaviest of the lion subspecies. Looking at pictures of them, they embody all that we envision of lions – strength, grace, and extreme majesty.
Or it could be argued that Dianna was unique. Although she belonged to the human race, which is plentiful to the point of harm, she was still an individual.
Not only that, but Dianna was an individual who loved big cats so much that even her father says she would have been devastated that Cous Cous was shot and killed by deputies trying to get to her body.
I’m sure rating one death against the other is easy for some people. To me, rating any death against another is never easy. Perhaps my Libra-nature shining through, but I like to believe it is because there is something unique about every person, creature, and even moment in time that makes it near to divinity.
For that reason alone, I will mourn both equally.