Walking with a Lion?

First let me say I live in the coastal US, not in Africa. I live in a suburban neighborhood, not the plains of the sub-Sahara.

I love my early morning walks with Huff when the human world is quiet. I enjoy listening to the birds: cardinals, mockingbirds, and the mourning doves.  If it has been a rainy night, a few frogs will still be singing, although most have quieted by dawn. 

Occasionally we see a fox sticking to the shadows, headed back to its den. One morning, a deer stood rigid in one neighbor’s lawn, surprised by our early appearance.  Huff was fascinated. I politely looked away, so it could bound across the road and disappear into the woods.

Always, there are plenty of domestic felines making their way home. Some shrink down into the grass, hiding. But Huff’s nose can tell they are there. The bolder cats watch us haughtily from their yard, licking a paw in disdain at a creature that must be walked on a leash. I’m not sure if that is directed at me or at Huff.

What was that?

One day last week I heard a sound that I immediately identified as a lion. Silly. I shrugged it off. Obviously, I mis-heard. It was early and I was still a little sleepy.

This morning, we set out early once again. And I heard the sound again. Definitely a lion. I have visited a big cat reserve and been very close when the lions start their "oofing." That absolutely was a lion.  

I am not a biologist, but I know that lions are not native to North Carolina. My experience being close to oofing lions told me that this lion was not close. But not so far away as Africa.

A lion's oof is an eerie sound when it’s just you and your dog and the cool morning breeze.

North Carolina, not Africa

Google tells me that a lion can be heard five miles away. Good, I have time to run. 

I was little more awake this morning and the map in my brain - not Google Maps - told me that there is a roadside zoo about mile from my neighborhood. I have never visited it, but I am told they have a lion. Mystery solved.

It’s nice to know I have not lost my mind, yet.  

In case you are interested, you can listen to lions oofing below.

If you to know why lions oof, think of it as a team-building exercise. They join in to bond with and account for all the pride members.

And maybe to shake up the neighbors.