I read today that Harrods will be closing their Pet Kingdom and opening a new womenswear section. Very good news.
Harrods used to sell exotic ‘pets’ until the 1970s when it was outlawed, but continued to sell domestic pets. Having been there fairly recently I can say that the whiff of luxury they would like to think permeated the whole emporium did not reach the pet department which was sad and pitiful – just the same as any petshop farming out apathetic animals in tiny cramped cages.
I am lucky enough to have grown up in Africa where there is never a wild life reserve far away and you can see the animals roaming free in their natural habitat. My hometown is mere kilometres away from malaria-free big five reserves such as Pumba, Shamwari, Kariega, and Addo, which is a malaria-free big seven reserve (elephant, rhinoceros, lion, buffalo, leopard, whale and great white shark). The best nature reserve in South Africa is The Kruger National Park, which is the size of Wales and has mindboggling numbers of animals. Here is a graph of the numbers of mammals they have (from the Wikipedia article I linked to above).
For that reason, I have never been a fan of zoos. And I am definitely not a fan of pet shops which sell puppies from puppy mills. Don’t get me started on that….
Reading about the Harrods pet shop made me think of the story of Christian the Lion, recorded in the book, Christian: The Lion at World’s End. Christian was a lion cub bought at Harrods, introduced to the wild in Africa and then reunited with his former owners some time later. They had been told he would not recognise them. But they went anyway…
If you want to get a lump in your throat, watch the video about it below:
This video is shorter but tells the story in text
Thank goodness for the fact that the Harrods Pet Shop is closing. My first visit to London in 1969 landed me accidently in the pet dept. on an extremely hot day and no water bowls to be seen. I never went back to Harrods because of that! It made me both sad and angry! Christian the Lion is beautiful and I hope he has a long and happy life. The video was amazing