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首页 » 英文科幻小说 » 少年派的奇幻漂流 Life of Pi » Chapter 13
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Chapter 13
So you see, if you fall into a lion's pit, the reason the lionwill tear you to pieces is not because it's hungry – be assured,zoo animals are amply fed – or because it's bloodthirsty, butbecause you've invaded its territory. As an aside, that is why acircus trainer must always enter the lion ring first, and in fullsight of the lions. In doing so, he establishes that the ring ishis territory, not theirs, a notion that he reinforces by shouting,by stomping about, by snapping his whip. The lions areimpressed. Their disadvantage weighs heavily on them. Noticehow they come in: mighty predators though they are, "kings ofbeasts", they crawl in with their tails low and they keep to theedges of the ring, which is always round so that they havenowhere to hide. They are in the presence of a stronglydominant male, a super-alpha male, and they must submit tohis dominance rituals. So they open their jaws wide, they situp, they jump through paper-covered hoops, they crawlthrough tubes, they walk backwards, they roll over. "He's aqueer one," they think dimly. "Never seen a top lion like him.
But he runs a good pride. The larder's always full and – let'sbe honest, mates – his antics keep us busy. Napping all thetime does get a bit boring. At least we're not riding bicycles likethe brown bears or catching flying plates like the chimps."Only the trainer better make sure he always remains superalpha. He will pay dearly if he unwittingly slips to beta. Muchhostile and aggressive behaviour among animals is theexpression of social insecurity. The animal in front of you mustknow where it stands, whether above you or below you. Socialrank is central to how it leads its life. Rank determines whomit can associate with and how; where and when it can eat;where it can rest; where it can drink; and so on. Until itknows its rank for certain, the animal lives a life of unbearableanarchy. It remains nervous, jumpy, dangerous. Luckily for thecircus trainer, decisions about social rank among higher animalsare not always based on brute force. Hediger (1950) says,"When two creatures meet, the one that is able to intimidate itsopponent is recognized as socially superior, so that a socialdecision does not always depend on a fight; an encounter insome circumstances may be enough." Words of a wise animalman. Mr. Hediger was for many years a zoo director, first ofthe Basel Zoo and then of the Zurich Zoo. He was a man wellversed in the ways of animals.
It's a question of brain over brawn. The nature of the circustrainer's ascendancy is psychological. Foreign surroundings, thetrainer's erect posture, calm demeanour, steady gaze, fearlessstep forward, strange roar (for example, the snapping of awhip or the blowing of a whistle) – these are so many factorsthat will fill the animal's mind with doubt and fear, and makeclear to it where it stands, the very thing it wants to know.
Satisfied, Number Two will back down and Number One canturn to the audience and shout, "Let the show go on! Andnow, ladies and gentlemen, through hoops of real fire…"


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