Little Tyke, the vegetarian lion – now updated

Photo: Ernest Reshovsky

Little Tyke is the name of this lioness, born in the zoo at Tacoma, Washington. Nursed for a broken leg, she became a rancher’s house pet, enjoying perfume, flowers, her own bed, a diet of milk and cereal. She never touches meat-which may account for the complacency of her kitten friend. (Reader’s Digest, 1968)


Georges and Margaret Westbeau rescued Little Tyke from the Tacoma zoo as a newborn. Little Tyke’s mother had previously killed almost all of her newborn cubs. She threw Little Tyke at the bars while holding one of her legs in her jaws and Georges grabbed the little cub, saying ‘you poor little tyke.’

The Westbeaus lived on Hidden Valley Ranch outside Seattle, where they rehabilitated and raised Little Tyke. She grew up around all kinds of animals and always refused to eat meat. At one point the Westbeaus offered a $1000 reward to anyone who could help them get her onto a carnivorous diet. But nothing worked. She would not eat anything that had even a drop of blood in it.


In the end Little Tyke ended up big and healthy on a diet of grain, milk and eggs, with rubber boots to chew (with perfume sprinkled on them!), as she refused bones.

George Westbeau trying to get Little Tyke to eat meat

If you can get hold of it, You Asked For It, a television show hosted by Art Baker, featured Little Tyke.

There is also this book, which you can find on Amazon. I am not including a link to it as it will expire at some point, but if you search for the title and author, it will pop up.


And here is an article (click to read)

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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