When a Lion came to tea…

16/02/2011

Now, everyone knows that Colin Mallery from Harry Levy Amusements can tell a good story. And some people may have heard this story before. But for those who haven’t here is the one about Colin and the lion (you do have to pity his poor wife!)

“One day I arrived home with a 10 month old lion in the back of my car. At the time I was working for Associated Leisure at Dreamland Margate which had a small zoo in the grounds.

I read an article in a Surrey local paper about a lion who had jumped on a lady wearing a leopard-skin  coat in Woking. she had been passing the scrap yard where the lion was living in an old bus.

Doug Harrison the M /D at Dreamland saw this as a good opportunity for free publicity and offered through the BBC who had become interested in the story to give the lion a home in Dreamland. I was sent for a brief interview on a news program at Shepherds Bush About the Zoo And Amusement park.

Little did I know that the lion had arrived in a Bedford Dormobile Van and I was expected to convey it back to Dreamland in my transport, a brand new Ford Granada. The meeting with King the lion was a bit of a blur but I remember how docile he was, which was a good job as he was loaded into the back of my car

So,I proceeded on my journey to Margate with a lion in the back with his head out of the window. As you can imagine this caused a sensation with cars overtaking me 3 or 4 times to get a better look!

In those days I was a smoker, I stopped in Victoria to get my Players cigarettes (no parking problems in those days) when I came out of the shop there was a policeman looking into the car, so I had to go through the whole explanation of why the lion was in the back of my car. He wasn’t sure it was legal but if he could stroke it he would let me get on my way. I can tell you my heart was in my mouth when he put his hand in the window but good old King never moved.

I arrived back in Margate at about 11.30 only to find our night watchman was asleep. Despite my banging and yelling could not be woken up, so I decided to go home. Of course there were no mobiles in those days .

Arriving home, I got King out of the car and opened the front door to be welcomed by a beautiful smell of a fry-up coming from the kitchen. King ripped the chain from my hand and ran indoors into the kitchen and my wife seeing a fairly large lion entering at speed dropped the frying pan and made a hasty exit.

King got stuck straight into my supper and ate the lot! You don’t go near a lion when it’s eating so I shut the door, found the dog and the cat and put them in the bedroom with my wife. Eventually I managed to get King into my garage with a large bowl of water and locked the doors and went to bed.

At 6am my next door neighbour rang the bell and berated me over the noise my dog had made during the night. He said he had never heard such a noise from a dog I didn’t dare tell him truth,  so poor old Zac the dog got the blame. I returned King to the zoo that morning and got him settled in his new home .

He grew very large and soon we were no longer able to go in the cage with him although he always allowed me to stroke him through the bars of his cage.

My wife did forgive me and later welcomed into our home Elsa, a lioness I became very attached to. Here is a picture of me, many years ago with Elsa – who liked to lick my hair!

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nowts changed you ould buggar, how you doing, many happy memories in the good old Deith days. Hope your keeping well.
Ray the geordie

ray taylor
whitley bay
22/12/2015, 22:59

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