Lions And Lions And Mormons! Oh My! (Part 3 Of The Lion Trilogy)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Warning, if you enjoy reading about Mormons being mauled by lions, then keep reading . . .

For those of you who follow my Expeditioner posts (Thanks Mom, Dad and Roberta*)  you may have noticed that my last two posts hinged upon a lion that mysteriously showed up in my neighborhood (“Lions, CouchSurfing and Murder”), then was mysteriously taken away by police shortly after it arrived (“Why They Took The Lion”).

This would leave Mom, Dad and Roberta to believe that there is no possible way I was going to continue to write about lions. Especially since in the last article the police came and took the lion away. With the lion gone, how could I possibly continue to write about it?

But just when I thought my lion writing days were over — BAM! — our friends at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came out of nowhere to lob me a lion-fodder filled Hail Mary Pass and just like that, it´s game back on.

What happened serves as a lesson to travelers and zoo-goers everywhere: You´re a moron if you decide to jump into the lion pen.

Here´s the Church of Mormon’s official statement surrounding what happened this week in Guatemala to one of its missionaries:

Elder Paul Richard Oakey, 20, from St. George, Utah serving in the Guatemala Guatemala City South Mission was attacked by a lion when he stood too close to an exhibit at a local zoo while on a preparation day activity. He sustained serious injuries to a leg and arm and was rushed to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. The doctors are still evaluating and assessing his condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with Elder Oakey and his family as he goes through this difficult time.

When the Mormons say stood too close to an exhibit, what they really mean is that Elder Paul (who at 20 seems awful young to be an elder) climbed over a concrete wall to get a better picture of the lions. And if Elder Paul thought that his magic underwear would protect him, he was gravely mistaken.

A local ABC news affiliate interviewed Paul´s stepfather who explained what happened. “Paul stood with his back to the lions, one of them crept up and grabbed his right leg, pulling him against cage bars, where a second lion then grabbed and clawed at his arm.”

Paul spent a full two minutes being mauled by lions until he was finally freed and was taken to a local medical center for treatment where he was stabilized and will survive to soon continue his mission of convincing naïve Guatemalans to give up caffeine, which in coffee country is no easy task.

His stepfather went on to say, “Paul loves life . . .Regardless of his poor judgment in this case, he’s energetic, he’s healthy, he’s strong, he’s in good spirits, and it’s just another adventure for him.”

It certainly leaves one to wonder what adventures Paul´s poor judgment has in store for him next.

Could it be my lion?

When the police came and took lion from the circus that was staying near my house, one of the police officers told me was that they were taking the lion to live in the zoo in Guatemala City.

Could this mean that this lion, my lion, was the one who mauled Elder Paul? The answer is: definitely maybe. And definitely maybe adds another chapter in a story that  just when I think it´s time to write, “THE END” continues to unravel and reveal more ridiculous layers.

Here is the part of the article where I was going to conclude things by launching  into a safety tirade about zoos and traveling and how travelers should not jump into lion cages for the sake of snapping a good photo. But really, if you are the type of person who jumps into lion cages for the sake of a photo (and I include myself), then nothing I write here is going to dissuade you. My only advice to you is to be quick — be so very quick, like a hurricane forced wind and run like the dickens when you see the lion running towards you with a hungry look on his murderous eyes.

And Paul, never turn your back to a lion, magic underwear be damned.

THE END (Maybe)

*Roberta´s name has been changed to protect her identity and mine. But Roberta, you know who you are. You know that you are my creepy Guatemalan stalker who makes me very uncomfortable when you send me messages like, “Me gustía tomar café contigo, pero de verdad no quiero el café, me gustaría solo tomarte como un café para que te sienta en mi estomago . . .”

What the hell, Roberta? I have no idea what you mean when you say that, but I know it´s meant to be sexual and I know it makes me uncomfortable, and I don´t know who gave you my phone number (was it Matt Stabile?), but you need to stop calling and writing me.


About the Author

LukeArmstrongLuke Maguire Armstrong lives in Guatemala directing the humanitarian aid organization, Nuestros Ahijados. His book of poetry, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About (available for sale on is especially enjoyed by people who “don’t read poetry.” (@lukespartacus)

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