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Extended Entries to the ASDM Scrapbook

George's Column

by Peggy Pickering Larson

Early in George L. Mountainlion's career as a columnist for "Trailside Topics," which appeared in the Arizona Daily Star, his credentials included the title "Chief Wildlife Ambassador." Soon thereafter he also used "Research Associate in Human Behavior." His writing style tended to be chatty, loquacious, informal, and friendly, but occasionally came across as a little pompous or caustic. If there were any deficiencies in style or errors of fact in his column, George could, of course, always point to Bill Carr, Hal Gras and others who assisted him in his writing task. In addition to all the other roles he played at the Desert Museum, with this column George proved he was, indeed, a fine catamount columnist, puma pundit, and literary lion.

George was good at making pithy cats-eye observations on the human race.

"Another reason why people come to a zoo is that they think animals are funny. Well, we think humans are funny, too. I guess it all proves that God has a sense of humor, and I'm glad."

"We animals, I honestly believe, often show far more sense than the humans who stare at us, but be that as it may."

"You know it's so easy to please human beings. All the things I do in my enclosure, like turning somersaults, chasing my tail and standing up and jumping, I'd do anyway, just to amuse myself. Humans seem to think I do these things for their benefit so I never let them know otherwise. It keeps them happy that way. I put on a special show for the people once in awhile, but most of the time I just act natural."

George sometimes described himself as an ideal, mature Museum resident, such as the time he reported on a young black bear cub which escaped from the Museum, thereby causing anxiety for Museum staff and a short search by Sheriff's deputies before being recovered.

"I'm a gentleman in more ways than one, and you don't see me running off across the desert making trouble for people."

He had a positive self-image.

"One of these days I am going to count the number of times I am asked, 'How are you George?' and then check out gate attendance. My figure would probably tally."

A good sense of humor served George well. While being led on a leash George was introduced to a large group of people and later reported his reaction.

"When I took a walk down in front of the steps of the main building, there were just hundreds of people lined up looking at me and taking pictures. It was like being a lion in a Roman arena only they didn't give me any Christians to eat, thank goodness."

Occasionally George talked about finding a lady mountain lion. The Museum was interested in a mate for him, also, but two potential ones did not work out.

"I sure have trouble finding a wife-the one, Susie, tried to chew me up and the second one died, so things are tough all over."

George often expressed the fact that he liked people.

"When my keeper shuts the gate so I can't get out of the den, I don't complain at all, I just keep purring all the time he is in my enclosure, working hard to keep things clean for me. He appreciates this attitude on my part and reaches through the bars and scratches my ears just to show that he likes me as much as I like him."

"I like people to scratch my ears and the back of my neck. I purr when this is done and rub up and down against the wire so that my whiskers are practically gone."

George did have some favorites among the human race.

"It takes children to really appreciate a lion."