“The Ides of March” (March 15), used in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by a soothsayer, has come to bring up a feeling of foreboding. It seems an appropriate date. On the Ides this month, 2014, mid-town Los Angeles will experience a massive funereal parade, Louisiana style, down Wilshire Boulevard. Members of a popular New Orleans band, Vaud and the Villains, will be filling the air with their special brand of funky yet sad sounds. Crowds of people wearing black will be following. At the front of the procession: a large stuffed lion, splayed on a stretcher and carried by pallbearers.
This will start off Los Angeles’ contribution to the Global March for Lions, a grass roots worldwide event being celebrated in over 55 cities worldwide to bring awareness and raise consciousness about the horrors of canned lion hunting taking place primarily in South Africa. The marches and events worldwide will be enhanced by a massive tweet storm on the same day. South African activists have been working towards closing down canned hunting and now asking international help to put pressure on their government.
What is canned hunting? It’s an abominable practice where lions are bred in captivity, tamed and often used in petting zoos when young, and then brutally murdered while trapped in enclosures. They are confined and often drugged and killed by bullet or arrow. Their heads are chopped off and used as wall trophies in the U.S., Europe and other countries, and their bones are sold to Asian countries where they are considered medicinal. The trophy hunting is bad enough, and the using of other parts of the lion by Asia continues to fuel the rampant poaching of wildlife taking place today, driving elephants, rhinos and lions toward extinction.
The L.A. march, which begins at the Page Museum at the LaBrea Tar Pits, will continue south to the South African consulate on Wilshire where a special song will be played. A proclamation will be presented to the Consulate on Monday with photos from the march. There will also be petitions.
Then marchers return to the grounds of the Museum to continue with the funeral service. Participants will encircle the lion, and put flowers of hope and commitment on it. Following the ceremony will be speakers' rally.
The speakers will expand the meaning of the march to include wild lions and other situations of lions in the world today.
Tippi Hedren, actress and founder of the Roar Foundation and Shambala Sanctuary will be the keynote speaker at the rally, along with Martine Colette, director and founder of the Wildlife Waystation, Catherine Doyle, Director of Science, Research and Advocacy at Performing Animal Welfare Society,and Matt Rossell, Campaigns Director of Animal Defenders International.
All lion lovers are welcome. Wear black and meet at 11 am sharp inside the museum gate at Wilshire and Curson. Get there early to find street parking or park in the museum lot. If you're on facebook, join the Global March events page.
Georja Umano is an actress and animal activist.
Photos by Georja Umano; poster from Global March for Lions