Children of the Sun God by Linda Tucker Reprinted by permission.
'When any creature becomes extinct and vanishes from the earth, all of us are diminished. We are all connected. We are all — every one of us — stewards of a precious legacy, a wild legacy that is dying.' - Siegfried and Roy
From the end of Chapter 15:
.... My immediate feeling was consternation that these majestic beasts had been relocated to such a foreign and unnatural context. But that they were alive at all was the first miracle. What exactly was going on here?
Leaving Pat Condy's offices at the Johannesburg Zoo late on a winter's afternoon in August 1997, I decided to prepare for a trip to Las Vegas. I wanted to meet the world's most celebrated magic men and see the situation for myself. More especially, I wanted to meet the magical White Lions of Timbavati.
WHITE LIONS AND MAGIC MEN (Chapter 16)
In September 1997, after crossing the Atlantic and several time zones, I landed at Los Angeles Airport, and spent the night at my cousin's apartment. The next day, in a hired car, I set off on the long drive through the Nevada Desert to the glittering oasis of Las Vegas.
After six hours, the last light began to fade over the pink desert and I picked out Vegas glittering in the distance. A giant mock-up of Sleeping Beauty's castle greeted my arrival, and, above the high-rise constructions, a roller coaster hoisted new arrivals into the heart of the world's biggest shrine to gambling.
Casinos lined the city center, and giant billboards, either side advertising nightly shows, were illuminated by gaudy neon fairy lights. It was not long before I picked out Siegfried and Roy's billboard: one blond man, one dark, both surrounded by snowy felines — the brightest of all the stars on the Strip.
Vegas was precisely as I expected: a fabricated world of dreams and illusions. When I arrived at the aptly named Mirage hotel, a valet took my key and a porter collected my bags. At check-in, I was issued with a map to my room, which took me through the so-called Tropical Rain Forest straight into the gambling emporium.
Looking for a way out, through the highly decorated army of the clicking and flashing one-armed bandits, I discovered I'd been walking in circles. I finally enlisted the assistance of a uniformed usher who led me through the maze of marbled corridors to an atrium of platinum elevators. My room was on the 16th floor.
Once in my room, I tried to collect my thoughts, which were spinning like a roulette wheel unable to fix on a lucky number.
MYSTERY OF THE WHITE LIONS
(From the back cover...)
This is Linda Tucker’s firsthand account of her journey into the mysteries of the most sacred animal on the African continent: the legendary White Lion. This book reveals the knowledge and ceremonies of Old Africa and the overwhelming love that has driven her every action to save these magnificent beasts, against formidable odds. . . .
After being rescued from a life-threatening encounter with lions in the Timbavati game region by a medicine woman known as the “Lion Queen,” Linda embarked on a journey into the mysteries of the White Lion. It is a mystical journey into the knowledge and ceremonies of Old Africa, in which humans and lions are able to cross the species barrier—in accordance with the most guarded secrets of Ancient Egypt and humankind’s greatest riddle, the sphinx.
Scientists in our day have established that humankind’s most significant evolutionary leap occurred as a result of our ancestors’ interaction with great cats. The White Lion is a genetic rarity of Panthera leo, and occurred in just one region on earth: Timbavati. Today White Lions form the center of the notorious “canned” trophy hunting industry—hand-reared captive lions, shot in enclosures for gross sums of money. By contrast, shamans believe that killing a “lion sun god” is the ultimate sacrilege. How the human species treats such precious symbols of God in nature may determine how nature treats the human species. Whether we view them as prophetic “Lions of God” or simply as rare genetic mutations, the story of the White Lions is a true legend unfolding in our own extraordinary times.