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Victoria Falls, South Africa

What I really love about zoos in developing countries is how the animals are usually separated from the public by a single barrier, usually just bars or a fence, allowing me to touch and pet and poke them. I don't personally know anyone who can say they've petted a living adult lion. (Yes, that is my hand in the picture.)

This was taken by me in 1999 at a crocodile farm just outside of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. I asked my guide if crocodile meat was ever fed to the lions. He said no, because it is very high in fat (huh?) and would be bad for them. But apparently there was an occasion when two or three juvenile crocs made a break for it in the dead of night, straight for the lion enclosure, forcing the lions to violate their diet.

The horizontal wire is apparently electrified to keep the lions from knocking down the fence, but there was no sign posted, and no one thought to inform me about it before I started sticking my fingers through the fence. Fortunately, it was not in working order at the time.

I made two discoveries that day -- lions like to be petted, just like housecats, and my allergy to cats extends to lions.