In a story that happens too often in cultures that devalue women, a young girl was kidnapped in an attempt to coerce marriage from her.
As she was being beaten, a small pride of lions came to her rescue and not only chased off her attackers but stood guard until help arrived.
The girl, missing for a week, had been taken by seven men who wanted to force her to marry one of them, said Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo, speaking by telephone from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, about 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa.
She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said.
“They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Wondimu said.
“If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage,” he said.
'Some kind of miracle'
Tilahun Kassa, a local government official who corroborated Wondimu’s version of the events, said one of the men had wanted to marry the girl against her wishes.
“Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people,” Wondimu said.
Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.
“A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn’t eat her,” Williams said.
I know it is common in scientific circles to dismiss empathy of animals and speculate it was an associative error. But having a helper Pootie myself I know that animals are capable of working to protect the weak.