Henry Salt Archive

Henry Salt (1853-1939) was the author of the Life of Henry David Thoreau, Animals Rights and A Plea for Vegetarianism which inspired Gandhi for follow a vegetarian diet.

The Secret of the Reptile House, Snake Feeding at the Zoological Gardens

by Henry S. Salt

“CHRISTIANOS ad leones” was the cry of the heathen persecutors in ages long past, when the Christian martyrs were flung to the lions in the Roman amphitheatre. Time has now had his revenges; but I do not know that the new version of “Christianos ad leones,” as daily exemplified in the stream of visitors to the lion-houses at the Zoo, is altogether edifying. Indeed, it has sometimes occurred to me, when musing on that strange medley of thoughtless sight-seers, who derive an unaccountable pleasure from staring at the wretched life-prisoners in our great animal convict-station, that the irrational is not always confined to the inner side of the bars, and that there was some force in Thoreau’s epigram that God made man “a little lower than the animals.”


Published: The Humanitarian League, London, 1909