The Lion That Wouldn’t Eat Meat

                     Earlier this century, a female African lion, born and raised in America, lived her entire lifetime of nine
                     years without ever eating meat.1 In fact, her owners, Georges and Margaret Westbeau,2 alarmed by
                     scientists’ reports that carnivorous animals cannot live without meat, went to great lengths to try to
                     coax their unusual pet (‘Little Tyke’) to develop a taste for it. They even advertised a cash reward for
                     anyone who could devise a meat-containing formula that the lioness would like. The curator of a New
                     York zoo advised the Westbeaus that putting a few drops of blood in Little Tyke’s milk bottle would
                     help in weaning her, but the lioness cub refused to touch it — even when only a single drop of blood
                     had been added.

 The more knowledgeable animal experts among the many visitors to the Westbeaus' 100 acr (40 hectare) ranch  also proffered advice, but nothing worked. Meanwhile, Little Tyke continued to do extremely well on a daily diet  of cooked grin, raw eggs and milk. By four years of age she was fully grown and weighed 352 pounds (160 kg).

As Georges Westbeau writes, it was "a younge visitor" to the Hidden Valley ranch who finally put his ind at ease in response to the question of how Little Tyke could be persuaded to eat meat (thought to be essential for carnivores to survive):

"He turned to look at me with serious eyes, then asked, 'Don't you read your Bible?' I admitted I didn't read it as much as I probably should. He continued, 'Read Genesis 1:30, and you will get your answer.' At my first opportunity I got my Bible and turned to the passage he had indicated. To my astonishment, I read these words: 'And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to evrything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.'"

The owners of Little Tyke, though apparently not Christians, were so reassured by this that they no longer worried about her refusal to eat meat, and turned their attention instead to 
the lioness’s food. These numerous grains were ground and stirred together while in the dry state,
then cooked and mixed with the milk and eggs. The lioness was fed this mixture each morning and
evening, and sometimes at midday as well. (To condition her teeth and gums — as she steadfastly
refused all offers of bones to gnaw — Little Tyke was given heavy rubber boots to chew on, which
generally lasted about three weeks.) The lioness not only survived on this diet, she thrived. One of
America’s ‘most able zoo curators’ apparently said that the lioness ‘was the best of her species he
had ever viewed.’

As well as Little Tyke, the Westbeaus cared for a menagerie of other animals at their ranch. A large
number of the many visitors to Hidden Valley were motivated by the prospect of seeing ‘the lion that
lives with the lamb’ — a situation similar to the prophecies of Isaiah 11:6. The sight of the lioness
living placidly alongside sheep, cattle, and peafowl made a profound impression on many visitors.
Television footage4 and newspaper photos of Little Tyke also moved many people, such as one who wrote, ‘Nothing has made me happier than your picture of the lion and the lamb. It has helped me believe in the Bible.’

In the light of Little Tyke’s situation, along with anecdotes of other carnivorous animals surviving on
vegetarian diets,5 it is certainly easier to relate to the Genesis account of animals living solely on plants before Adam’s Fall.6

Mr Westbeau’s observation of the lioness that ‘To condition her stomach she would spend an hour at a time eating the succulent tall grass in the fields’, is also a vivid reminder of the prophecies of Isaiah 11:7 and 65:25, ‘… the lion will eat straw like the ox.’


1.Westbeau, G., Little Tyke: the story of a gentle vegetarian lioness, Theosophical Publishing 
   House, IL, USA, 1986. (Information is drawn from pp. 3–6, 17, 32–35, 59–60,

2.The lioness had been given to the Westbeaus as a badly mauled one-day-old cub, by the zoo
   where her mother was kept. The mother had killed all cubs from her four earlier pregnancies
    immediately after birth. This time though, anxious zoo attendants were standing by, ready to
    scramble to rescue the offspring at the moment of delivery. With ‘Little Tyke’ they succeeded
    — but not before the mother’s quick and powerful jaws had injured the cub’s right front leg.

3.Many people would include eggs in ‘vegetarian’ diets today, if unfertilised, as no killing of
    animals is involved. Though it seems unlikely that eggs (or milk for adult animals) were part of
    the pre-Fall diet, the point to note here is that lions do not need meat to survive. Many plants
    are now extinct; it is highly likely that there were very rich protein sources in the pre-Fall /
    pre-Flood plant kingdom. 

4.Sadly, while in Hollywood for filming of a nation-wide television broadcast, Little Tyke
   contracted pneumonia, and she died a few weeks later. 

5.While living in Indonesia in the 1980s, several families told me that they never fed meat to their
    pet dogs — though it is possible that bones might have been present in the scraps fed to them.
   Other reports suggest that this is a widespread phenomenon in that country. Return to text.

6.The Bible does not give us details of how the change from plant-eating to meat-eating has
   occurred after the Fall; one possibility is by divine ‘redesign’. Hence, even if lions today did
   need meat to survive, it would not invalidate Genesis. 

[Article taken from Answers In Genesis]

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