The Caged Hungry Lion and the Sheep teaches us to apply wisdom when dealing with difficult and inconsiderate people.
Written by Chinyere Nwosu
The Caged Hungry Lion and the Sheep
A long-time ago in the animal kingdom, a sheep was going on its way and saw a lion crying inside a cage. The lion was trapped and unable to help itself. When the lion saw the sheep, he begged it to save him and promised not to kill and eat it. The sheep refused because it did not believe the lion. The lion pleaded and pleaded, and after much persuasion, the sheep accepted to help the lion. It opened the cage for the lion.
“Haiya!” the lion exclaimed as it came out of the cage.
“Freedom at last.”
The lion took a deep breath and looked around him. Freedom tasted good, but he was hungry. Within the vast land before him, the only animal within reach that the lion could eat as his meal was the sheep. Suddenly, the lion forgot his promise and grabbed the sheep to kill it. The lion has been in the cage for some days and has had nothing to eat. The sheep cried and reminded the lion of his promise and the service it rendered him; all the pleas were to no avail.
The sheep continued to struggle and argue with the lion. Now, some other animals were passing by and met this scene and sought to settle the disagreement.
“Can you both tell us what happened?” They asked.
The lion and the sheep narrated their sides of the story.
For fear and seeking the lion’s favour, all the animals sided with the lion save the tortoise. The tortoise insisted that it didn’t quite understand the story. Rather than take sides, the tortoise asked the lion for further clarifications.
The tortoise said, “Mr. Lion, please tell me again what you said happened.”
The lion explained the scenario once again to the group.
“Will you be kind enough to show us where you were before the sheep rescued you?” the tortoise asked.
The lion pointed at the cage.
The tortoise went further. “Were you inside or outside the cage before the sheep came by?”
“Inside,” the lion responded.
The tortoise said, “okay. Please, go into the cage and let us see how difficult it was for you that made you need help.”
The lion agreed and went into the cage. As soon as the lion was inside, the tortoise locked the door. The lion was trapped again. So the lion began to plead with the animals to let it out, but they didn’t.
Thus, the sheep was safe, and the other animals too. The other animals were a bit confused and asked the tortoise –
“Why did you lock the lion in again?”
The tortoise responded, “if we let the lion eat the sheep today, he will still get hungry tomorrow. Who knows which of us he would eat then?”
The other animals were amazed and appreciated the tortoise for its cunning bravery.
Themes: betrayal, compassion, and power.
Moral: Do not support evil today or look away because it does not affect you. It may affect you tomorrow.
Origin of the story: Africa