Alpha Baboon – Leader of baboons
Ape – Leader of apes
Billy Bob – Hamburger manufacturer
Circus Owner – Tiger’s owner
Devida – (Tiger)
Dorothy – Sheena’s mother
Dr Brock Gibbons – Animal Expert
Elephant – Evangelical Xenophobe
Eryky – Male tiger
Gerry – Sheena’s father
Jim – Captain of ship
Little Girl – (Sheena)
Maniah – Female tiger
Marus – Ruling tiger of adjoining territory
Misha – Leader of Pride
Nidia – Tiger’s mother
President of the USA
Rick – Head of the CIA
Sheena – (Little Girl)
Tiger – (Devida)
Tomsu – tiger
Wolf – President’s dog
Zazu – Feared and respected tiger
The tiger cub slipped easily from it mother’s womb and entered a brave new world. A few minutes later its mother, who should have been feeding it, left and didn’t return for nearly an hour. When she did return, she was exhausted and lay down and slept. The cub whined, it needed sustenance, but his mother could not give it. After several hours the mother awoke and did her duty.
Day after day the mother left, to return, exhausted, stressed, shaking, and fell asleep immediately and then, in due course, to feed the cub with the pitiful amount of milk she had.
When the Circus Owner deemed the tiger cub had grown large enough, it was roughly manhandled and taken to a large room. Instinctively it moved to a corner, not knowing or understanding what was happening.
The men with long whips moved forward and started to lash the cub who howled in pain. It backed farther and farther into a corner that did not yield until the bars of the cage pushed into its flesh. The tiger’s instinct told it to attack, but its momentary forward motion resulted in heavier, frenzied lashes that forced it back. Two men approached while one at the door held a gun, readied, to his shoulder.
The tiger growled a warning but several more biting lashes shut it up, and it cringed. Lying prone on the ground its fur shook as terror swept in waves through its body. The men stood by it, poking it, goading it, but the tiger did nothing, could do nothing; its anger held in check, buried, by the need to survive.
When the men were sure the tiger was in their control, they backed away and went through the door. After a few minutes the tiger, in much pain, dragged itself from the corner and, panting heavily, stood unsteadily and looked around. It was taking a deep lungful of air as the door burst open and the men rushed in with their whips held high. The tiger immediately went back to the corner and lay prone, shaking in terror. They gave it one dominant lash to make sure the tiger understood and then left.
Two weeks later, it was forced to jump through hoops. It wasn’t sure what to do, but the sharp spike in its backside was a pointer, and after that it understood. Next, it had to sit on stools, jump over bars, jump through blazing hoops. Soon, it’s terror was replaced with a numbness that took it away from the world it was in and allowed it to do anything. And, as a soon as it was ready, it was sent out to the main ring, where it did its tricks, the audience applauded and clapped with excitement, and then went home to tell their friends what a wonderful place the circus was.
The circus was located near to a jungle on the edge of a port town. In the town, in a small, tidy kitchen, a mother, husband and their ten years old daughter were having breakfast.
‘They were talking at school yesterday about the circus’ said Sheena, the little girl.
Surreptitiously, her parents looked at each other.
‘Come on Sheena, you’ll be late for school’ said Dorothy, her mother, with a smile.
‘We should go to the circus’ said Sheena ‘I’ve never been to a circus.’
‘Maybe when you are older’ replied mother softly.
‘My classmates are going.’
‘Maybe next time it’s here.’
‘It doesn’t seem fair that my friends can go and I can’t.’
‘I don’t think you’d like it Sheena’ said Gerry, her father, gently.
‘You tell me I should make my own mind up about things. That’s how I will learn, that’s how I will grow’.
Father looked at Mother. ‘And how do we get out of that?’
When they arrived, the Big Top was full. Aerial artists swooped overhead, and clowns on unicycles were entertaining the children with their antics. They took their seats with Sheena between them.
‘I like this’ said Sheena.
‘Good’ said Gerry with a smile that hid his fears.
The Ringmaster came out. ‘And now ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we present the wonderful Tiger Troupe. They will amaze you with their breathtaking skills which they love doing for your enjoyment. So….’ He held out his arm, and a drum roll hushes the crowd. ‘The Tiger Troupe…’
The audience clapped as the tigers came down the tunnel into the arena, to be met by a man with a whip who cracked it loudly, and they went and sat on their respective chairs. A tiger’s eyes looked around the audience and rested on Sheena, who was excited and laughing.
The tigers went through their routine to the delight of the audience. They jumped on high stools, jumped through hoops, did their tricks until it was near the end and the finale. The Ringmaster came back before the audience.
‘And now ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, just for you.’
Another long drum roll and the hoops were lit, fire dancing from them, and the audience waited in anticipation. After a loud whip crack the tigers reluctantly jumped through the blazing hoops. The inexperienced Tiger, not as accomplished, held back, but the whip cracked by his face and he followed the other tigers and jumped through.
‘Why were they hitting him?’ asked Sheena, concern on her face.
‘I don’t think they are really hitting him, Sheena; it’s just pretend.’
‘But they don’t like jumping through the hoops! They don’t like it!
Dorothy and Gerry looked at each other. This wasn’t so much the elephant in the room that they were so concerned about, it was the tiger. ‘Why are they making them do those things?’
‘It’s a circus Sheena, it’s what they do’ her father said, with as much enthusiasm as he could show.
‘But they shouldn’t’
Sheena looked at the Troupe, and her eyes stopped at the tiger. He was looking at her and yet not seeing her, and she saw the hopelessness in his vacant eyes. For a fleeting second the he saw the look of concern on Sheena’s face, and then his mind went back to some black place from which there was no escape.
After the show, the family walked home silently.
Sheena stopped and pulled them to a halt. ‘We have to go back and help them.’
‘There’s nothing we can do Sheena’ said mother softly.
‘There must be, there must be’