by Melissa Waz of ADAPTT-Tampa -
Over a year ago, while learning to speak Spanish at a
school in Mexico, ADAPTT-Tampa co-coordinator Karen Lybrand ([email protected])
came across an enslaved, caged lion. Her class took a city tour one day
and passed him along the way. "Solomon" is his name. He lived in a small
cage (barely large enough to turn around) outside the residence of a man
named Diego Gaona.
For an entire year, Karen thought about Solomon and
wondered what we could do to get him out of there. She wasn't even
positive about his exact location, but she did know the name of the
small town (Cholula). Finally, in February of this year Karen and I
(Melissa) took a trip back there.
We found him. He was still there. Pacing back and forth.
Sadness and despair in his eyes. He stared at us, as if to say "Please
don't leave me here." We promised him that we would be back.
Immediately when we got back into the United States, we
began our investigation. We learned that Solomon existed for one
purpose. To bring "luck" to Diego Gaona. He was a symbol of "pride" to
this man (who was a witch with 18 wives), his cage had barely enough
shelter to keep the rain out. Concrete floor. He was 4 years old ... and
never once did he step foot outside of his cell. He ate raw chicken
every other day.
After three months of negotiations with U.S. and Mexican
government officials, wildlife officers, customs and immigrations and
permits offices, we got our final authorization to remove him from his
lifetime of misery. Beginning on June 3, Karen spent six days in Mexico
-- taking a bus back
and forth between Puebla and Mexico City obtaining the remaining
signatures and finalizing the paperwork.
On June 8, Pat Craig, Director of the Rocky Mountain
Wildlife Conservation Center arrived in Cholula to meet her, with his
truck and transport container.
It is with great humbleness and pride that I announce:
Solomon arrived at his new home today, Sunday, June 10.
After driving 1700 miles from Cholula, Mexico, to
Denver, Colorado, Solomon was introduced to 115 acres of paradise. He
will start his new life at the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Conservation
Center leaving a lifetime of suffering and loneliness behind him.
Go on to Summer Picnic
Return to 13 June 2001 Issue
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