I watch the lions prance
in their enclosure, a rolling patch
of grass and rock
meant to imitate the savannah.
They sense the crowd: a sign
of feeding time. A zookeeper arrives
and opens the door
to the cage. With a blunt stick
and a few gestures, he gets the lioness
to lift her paws,
roll over, each time rewarding her
with a chunk of meat.
Here we minimize their contact
with humans so they’ll remain wild. But
we also have to coax
certain behaviors from them.
But I don’t see wild creatures, only
animals trained to perform