Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Naming lions

Lion cubs Maud and George were born on February 16 1913 at Wellington Zoo. The authorities held a "plebiscite" to determine their names in April that year.

But the choice wasn't greeted with unanimous approval.
A correspondent who finds fault with Councillor Fuller for his protest against native names (which puzzle the average Briton) contends that Maori words should be bestowed on the Zoo lion cubs, instead of "George" and "Maud."
Evening Post 26.5.1913

George and Maud as names for the lion cubs at the Wellington Zoo did not meet with the approval of Councillor Barber at the last meeting of the Wellington City Council. He suggested that Native names should be given: Tutanekai and Hinemoa were his choice. "But they're brother and sister, not lovers," objected Councillor Hindmarsh. Councillor Barber said he did not know what George and Maud stood for. George might mean his Majesty King George, or it might mean George Frost. Councillor Fuller vigorously opposed the proposal to christen the cubs in Maori. "It's Pongatorotu and that sort of thing that's the curse of this country. People forget the names as soon as they leave. Give them good old English names." The council, by nine votes to seven, favoured the English names.

Northern Advocate 28.5.1913

Sadly, George died young, in June 1914.

Young George, the entertaining and handsome son of King Dick at the Wellington Zoo and heir apparent to the kingship of the Zoo, is dead. The Zoo has been under a cloud for some time during the illness of the cub, and the end came on Tuesday, from an attack of pneumonia. George was a particularly fine looking youngster, and, with his twin sister, had always been a popular exhibit. Teething troubles lowered his healthy vitality for some time before the cold weather came on, and the recent sudden changes and wintry snaps reached his lungs. The Zoo is the poorer by the loss of a very handsome beast, which was the more kindly regarded because he had been born and bred on the spot. 

Akaroa Mail and Banks Peninsula Advertiser 26.6.1914

Maud though, went on into adulthood, and mothered at least two sets of cubs of her own.

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