The Secret of the Reptile House

The Secret of the Reptile House

“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.”

Henry S. Salt

Humanitarian League, 1909, pp. 21

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