Just Before the Unpleasantness Began

Desi LifeThis week’s Darwin Awards go to Desi Life (“yes, pink and turquoise do go well together”), an offshoot of the Toronto Star catering to the growing GTA South Asian population, which arranged an ill-managed photo-shoot at the Bowmanville Zoo, to build readership by showing how exotic ancient Indian martial arts can be. And that there are no limits to human stupidity.

A dancer knocked over by a lion during a photo shoot at Bowmanville Zoo says she is happy to have come away with four broken ribs and a bloodied lung.

“To be honest, the sensation I have is a great deal of gratitude to be alive,” Gitanjali Kolanad said yesterday.

From the beginning, the 180 kilogram beast proved playful and not entirely under the control of its two minders.

Kolanad, 54, practices the ancient, and obviously ineffectual, Indian martial art of Kalaripayat, fashioned after the movements of such animals as the lion, elephant, wild boar and peacock. The magazine suggested she pose with a lion. Next time, she might just tell them where to get off, and choose a peacock instead…

A video of the session shows Leo first knocking over editor Sonia Verma. She picks herself up and smiles. He next paws the legs of photographer Richard Lautens. Off-camera, he also took a swipe at the legs of art director Spencer Wynn.


The 3-year-old lion was lying nearby when an oblivious Kolanad was getting into her movements. Still wanting to frolic, the animal jumped up and fell on her, knocking the wind out of her, bruising her left lung and breaking four left ribs.

It was not an attack, the witnesses said. The lion’s mouth was not open and Kolanad was not scratched. The Bowmanville Zoo had no comment on the incident.

Focus is key in Kalaripayat, which bases its movements on the effortless power of animals. It’s a constant lesson in focus. When you lose your focus, you immediately get hit.

In the video, one minder kicks the otherwise docile beast in the neck (nice work, Tarzan) while the other pulls on Leo’s chain. The lion takes a second, unsuccessful lunge at Kolanad as she lies gasping, before he is escorted out the door.

Although unable to work for the past month and still in pain, Kolanad said she feels on the mend.

Kalari masters are experts in the use of herbs, oils and massage. They also treat broken bones and sprains, all without X-rays or anesthetics.

Next time, Desi Life, save Leo a whole lot of grief and go Photoshop your bumptious drivel. Force of Nature, indeed.

Hope these folks don’t tell their kids to go play outside and annoy the dog in the backyard. And that the Liberals don’t start banning lions and any cats that are substantially similar

Just Before the Unpleasantness Began

Bowmanville Zoo is one of the largest suppliers of trained animals for the feature film and television industry. Maintaining the largest stable of trained movie and television animals in Canada, the Bowmanville Zoo bring cutting edge operant conditioning techniques and behavioural modification to the animals under its stewardship. While concentrating upon the large feline predators and elephants, the zoo has enjoyed great success with a wide array of mammalian, reptilian and avian species.


3 responses to “Just Before the Unpleasantness Began

  1. Very nice!

    Definitely a Darwin candidate…

  2. [quote]And that the Liberals don’t start banning lions and any cats that are substantially similar…[/quote]

    My 3 just ran for cover after reading this.
    You either laugh or you cry at the stupidity.
    I seem to go back and forth.

  3. “And that the Liberals don’t start banning lions and any cats that are substantially similar…”

    Puh-leeze, don’t be giving them any ideas, they come up with enough twittiness on their own.

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