Elsa Mates with a Wild Lion
It was between 29th August and 4th September 1959 that my husband George actually saw
Elsa and her lion courting. Quickly he made a calculation - 108 days' gestation - this
meant that cubs might arrive between the 15th and 21st December.
When on his return to Isiolo he told me what he had seen I could hardly bear not to
start off for camp alone, for I was afraid that Elsa might now follow her mate into a
world beyond our reach.
But when we arrived she was there waiting for us by the big rock close to the car
She was very affectionate and also very hungry.
As our tents were being pitched her lion started calling and during the night he
circled round the camp, while she remained with George eating heartily and quite
uninterested in her mate's appeal. At dawn we heard the lion still calling but from much
For two days she remained in camp eating so enormously that she was too sleepy to move
till the afternoon when she went fishing with George.
During the third night she ate so much that we were quite worried about her; yet in the
morning, in spite of her bulging belly, she trotted into the bush with us and first
stalked two jackals and then a flock of guinea fowl.
Of course, each time she closed in on them they flew off, whereupon she sat down and
licked her paws. I was walking ahead but stopped dead at the sight of a ratel; this
animal, also known as a honey badger, is rarely seen. It had its back turned towards me
and was so absorbed digging for grubs in the rotten wood of a fallen tree that it was
quite unaware of Elsa's approach. She saw it and crept forward cautiously till she was
practically on top of it.
Only when their heads nearly bumped together did the ratel take in the situation; then
hissing and scratching he attacked her with such courage and so savagely that she
Using every advantage that the ground offered the ratel made a fighting retreat,
charging often, and eventually disappeared none the worse for his adventure.
Elsa returned defeated and rather bewildered; plainly she was too well fed to hunt
except for sport and there was no fun to be had with such a raging playmate.
This incident made us sure that we had been right in suspecting a ratel when, in the
early days of Elsa's release, we had found deep bites and gashes on the lower part of her
body. For no other small animal is so fearless and bold.
On our walk home Elsa, full of high spirits and affection, rolled me over several times
in the sand, while I listened to the trumpeting of elephants which were much too close for
That night she slept in front of my tent, but just before dawn her lion started calling
and she went off in his direction.
Their calls were easy to distinguish; Elsa has a very deep
guttural voice, but after her initial roar only gives two or three whuffing grunts,
whereas her lion's voice is less deep and after his roar he always gives at least ten or
During Elsa's absence we broke camp and left for Isiolo hoping that she was in the
company of her mate.
While I was at Isiolo George was asked to look after a baby elephant which had fallen
into a well. Of course he brought it home. We called it Pampo; it was a most engaging
creature and well worth the trouble it caused us, which included supplying it with two
gallons of milk a day.
Baby elephants abandoned by their mothers can rarely be reared for it is very difficult
to find a substitute for an elephant's milk which has a different content from any other,
so although we added cod liver oil and glucose to Pampo's diet, I felt very anxious about
his future and scarcely left him for an hour.
Housekeeping for two animals who lived one hundred and fifty miles apart was a problem.
We couldn't neglect Elsa, nor allow Pampo to die for want of care. Luckily, my friend Joan
Jugi, who is a great animal lover and has had much experience in handling them, offered to
act as elephant sitter, so we were able to return to the camp on 10th October.
It was three weeks since we had left Elsa; an hour after our arrival we saw her
swimming across the river to greet us, but instead of the exuberant welcome she usually
gave us, she walked slowly up to me. She did not seem to be hungry and was exceptionally
gentle and quiet.
Patting her, I noticed that her skin had become extremely soft and her coat unusually
glossy. I saw, too, that four of her five nipples were very large.
She was pregnant. There was no doubt about it. She must have conceived a month ago.
It is widely believed that a pregnant lioness who is handicapped in hunting by her
condition, is helped by one or two other lionesses who act as 'aunts.' They are also
supposed to assist in looking after the new-born cubs, for the male is not of much
practical use on such occasions and, indeed, is often not allowed near the young lions for
Since poor Elsa had no 'aunts,' it would be our job to replace them. George and I
talked over plans to help to feed her and avoid any risk of her injuring herself during
I was to stay in camp as much as I could and, at the nearest Game Scout Post, some
twenty-five miles away, we would establish a herd of goats from which I could collect a
few in my truck at regular intervals.
Nuru would remain with me to help with Elsa and Makedde would guard us with his rifle,
Ibrahim could drive and I would keep one boy, the Toto (the word Toto means child in
Swahili), to act as a personal servant.
George would visit us as often as his work allowed.
As though she had understood our conversation, Elsa hopped on to my camp bed as soon as
it was made ready and looked as if she thought it the only suitable place for someone in
From now on she took possession of it, and when next morning, as I did not feel well, I
had it carried down to the studio, she came to share it with me. This was uncomfortable,
so after a time I tipped it over and rolled her off. This indignity caused her to retire,
offended, into the river reeds till the late afternoon when it was time for our walk.
When I called her she stared at me intently, advanced determinedly up to my bed,
stepped on to it, squatted, lifted her tail and did something she had never before done in
so unsuitable a place.
Then with a very self-satisfied expression she jumped down and took the lead on our
Apparently, now that she had had her revenge everything was again all right between us.
I observed that her movements were very slow and that even the noise of elephants close
by only made her cock her ears. That night she rested in George's tent, unresponsive to
the call of a lion who seemed to be very near the camp.
As in the early morning the lion was still calling, we took Elsa for a walk in his
direction. There, to our surprise, we found the spoor of two lions.
When she began to show an interest in these pug marks we left her and returned home.
She did not come back that night, so we were surprised to hear a lion grunting extremely
close to the camp. (Indeed, in the morning his pug marks proved that he had been within
ten yards of our tent.) The next day Elsa again stayed away. Hoping to make the lions
kindly disposed towards her, George shot a buck and left it as a farewell gift; then we
returned to Isiolo.
We were delighted to find Pampo well, though unfortunately he was beginning to share
the fate of all celebrities and attracted a host of visitors. I was worried about this
because young animals are usually very sensitive to the presence of strangers and I had
reason to' think that his admirers tired him and made him nervous for as soon as he and I
were left alone he would trustfully move his bulky body against mine and then go to sleep.
Plainly this contact gave him a sense of security.
After we had spent two weeks at home we decided that it was time to go and see Elsa.
Joan Jugi very kindly offered to come and look after Pampo again and when she arrived was
delighted to be welcomed by most endearing squeals.
It was dark when we reached camp, but Elsa appeared within a few moments. She was
extremely thin, very hungry and had deep, bleeding gashes and bites on her neck, and also
the claw marks of a lion on her back.
While she gnawed at the meat we had brought and I dressed her wounds, she responded by
licking me and rubbing her head against mine.
During the night we heard her dragging the carcase down to the river and splashing
across with it, and later we heard her returning. Shortly afterwards some baboons gave an
alarm and were answered by a lion across the river. Elsa replied from our side with soft
moans. Very early in the morning she tried to force her way through the wicker door of the
thorn enclosure which surrounds my tent. She pushed her head half-through but then got
stuck. Her attempt to free herself caused the door to give way and she finally entered
wearing the gate round her neck like a collar. I freed her at once but she seemed restless
and in need of reassurance, for she sucked my thumb frantically. Though she was hungry she
made no attempt to recover or to guard her 'kill' as she usually does. All she did was to
listen intently when any sound came from the direction of the carcase. We were puzzled by
this odd behaviour, so George went to investigate what had happened to the 'kill.' He
discovered that Elsa had taken it across the river, but the spoor he found on the far side
suggested that another lioness had then dragged it about four hundred yards, eaten part of
it and afterwards taken the remains towards some nearby rocks. Assuming that this lioness
had cubs concealed in the rocks, George did not go on with his search. He observed,
however, that beside the spoor of the strange lioness were the pug marks of a lion - and
that they were not those of Elsa's husband. The evidence suggested that this lion had not
touched the meat but had followed the lioness at some distance, and left the 'kill' to
Does this mean that though lions are not of much use to a lioness who is in cub or
nursing and therefore handicapped for hunting, they do make sacrifices for their mate? Had
Elsa, though she was hungry, suffering from still unhealed wounds and herself in need of
an aunt on account of her pregnancy, gone to the help of a nursing lioness? This was
something we could only wonder about.
She was now rather heavy and all exercise had become an effort to her.
Now, when she came with me to the studio she often lay on the table. I was puzzled
about this, for though the table is perhaps a cooler place it was certainly a lot harder
than my bed, or the soft sand below. During the following days Elsa shared her time
between her mate and me. On our last night in camp Elsa made a terrific meal of goat and
then, very heavy in the belly, went to join her lion who had been calling for her for many
hours. Her absence gave us an excellent opportunity to leave for Isiolo.
When I got home I was horrified at Pampo's appearance. His face had fallen in
alarmingly, especially round the eyes and as he dragged himself up to us his bones stuck
out. Joan told us that recently his milk consumption had suddenly dropped from two gallons
to only six bottles a day. At first she had thought this might be due to teething pains
for he was constantly rubbing his gums against anything he could find. He had also pushed
his head into his bath tub and sucked up all the water, and on the following day had
wished to repeat the performance; but as his digestion was upset Joan had not produced his
tub for him. Soon afterwards she had found him trying to satisfy his thirst from a muddy
puddle below a waste pipe. His condition had grown worse after this episode and she had
called in the vet. He had advised her to feed Pampo on glucose and water only, and had
treated him with sulphaguanidine.
After our return Pampo got weaker day by day and in spite of everything we did for him
he died, very peacefully, leaning his head against me, just a month after he came to us. I
was very upset at losing him as he was a most lovable little creature, but the post-mortem
proved that he had pneumonia and diseased intestines as well, so we could not have hoped
to save his life.
It was the hottest time of year and there was a severe drought. The tribesmen, who in
general avoided the region round Elsa's camp, because it is infested with a type of tsetse
fly which is fatal to domestic stock, now offered to pay in order to be allowed to bring
their flocks into the reserve. The District Commissioner and George had several meetings
with them and did their best to provide a solution to their problem, but, in spite of
this, trespassing and poaching increased.
In the second week of November when we were on our way back to Elsa, about ten miles
from the camp we noticed a lot of vultures in the trees, and so we went to look for the
kill which their presence indicated, and found the body of a baby elephant, scarcely
bigger than Pampo.
He had died of spear wounds and had no doubt been killed by Boran tribesmen. In order
to win the approval of the girls the young men of this tribe are obliged to engage in
'spear-blooding.' This means that they have to prove their courage by killing an animal
belonging to a dangerous species, and unfortunately the fact that the victim itself may be
newly born and defenceless in no way invalidates the test.
When we got near Elsa's lie-up we found the spoor of many sheep and goats and the camp
site itself patterned with hoof marks. I trembled to think what might have happened to her
should she have killed one of the goats which had been grazing so provokingly in what she
regarded as her private domain. Later our fears were increased by finding the body of a
crocodile close to the river; it had been speared quite recently.
George sent a patrol of Game Scouts to deal with the poachers while he and I went out
to look for Elsa.
For some hours we walked through the bush, calling to her and at intervals shooting
into the air, but there was no response. After dark a lion began to call from the
direction of the Big Rock, but we listened in vain for Elsa's voice.
We had run out of thunder flashes so when it became dark all we could do to let her
know that we were there was to turn on the penetrating howl of the air-raid siren, a relic
of Mau-Mau days. In the past it had often brought her into camp.
It was answered by the lion; we sounded it again and again he replied, and this strange
conversation went on until it was interrupted by Elsa's arrival. She knocked us all over;
as her body was wet we realized that she must have swum across the river and had come from
the opposite direction to that from which the lion was calling.
She seemed very fit and not hungry. She left at dawn but returned at tea-time when we
were setting out for our walk. We climbed up the Big Rock and sat there watching the sun
sink like a fire-bail behind the indigo hills.
At first Elsa blended into the warm reddish colour of the rock as if she were part of
it, then she was silhouetted against the fading sky in which a full moon was rising. It
seemed as though we were all on a giant ship, anchored in a purple-grey sea of bush, out
of which a few islands of granite outcrop rose. It was so vast a view, so utterly peaceful
and timeless, that I felt as though I were on a 'magic ship' gliding away from reality
into a world where man-created values crumble to nothing. Instinctively I stretched my
hand towards Elsa who sat close to me; she belonged to this world and only through her
were we allowed to glance into a paradise which we had lost. I imagined Elsa in the future
playing with her happy little cubs on this rock, cubs whose father was a wild lion; and at
this very moment he might be waiting nearby. She rolled on her back and hugged me close to
her. Carefully I laid my hand below her ribs to feel whether any life were moving within
her, but she pushed it away making me feel as though I had committed an indiscretion.
Certainly her nipples were already very large.
Soon we had to return to camp, to the safety of our thorn enclosure, and the lamps and
rifles with which we armed ourselves against those dark hours in which Elsa's real life
This was the moment at which we parted, each to return to our own world.
When we got back we found that there were a number of Boran poachers in camp who had
been rounded up by the Game Scouts. As a Senior Game Warden, one of George's most
important tasks is to put down poaching for it threatens the survival of wild life in the
Elsa kept away during that night and the following day. This worried us as we would
rather have had her under our eyes while so many tribesmen and their flocks were around.
In the afternoon we went to look for her. As I came near to the rock, I called out to warn
her of our approach but got no reply. It was only when we had climbed on to the saddle
where we had sat on the previous evening that we suddenly heard an alarming growl,
followed by crashes and the sound of wood breaking inside the big cleft below us. We
rushed as fast as we could to the top of the nearest rock, then we heard Elsa's voice very
close and saw her lion making away swiftly through the bush.
Elsa looked up at us, paused and silently rushed after her mate. Both disappeared in a
direction in which we knew there were some Boran with their stock.
We waited until it was nearly dark and then called Elsa. To our surprise she came
trotting out of the bush, returned to camp with us and spent the night there, going off
only in the early morning.
George went back to Isiolo with the prisoners but left some Game Scouts in camp.
The bush was full of sheep and goats which had straggled away from the flocks and
several newly born lambs were bleating piteously. With the help of the Scouts I found them
and returned them to their mothers.
The evening was lit by lightning, a sure sign that the rains would start soon. Never
had I greeted the first downpour with such a sense of relief. For this drenching meant
that the Boran would return to their pastures and temptation and danger would be removed
from Elsa's path.
Fortunately, as she did not like the crowd of Game Scouts who now shared our camp, she
spent these last dangerous days on the far side of the river where there were neither
Boran nor flocks.
Daily now the parched ground was soaked by showers. The transformation which always
results from the onset of the rains is something which cannot be imagined by anyone who
has not actually witnessed it.
A few days before we had been surrounded by grey, dry, crackling bush, in which long
white thorns provided the only variation in colour. Now, on every side there was lush
tropical vegetation decked with myriads of multi-coloured flowers,' and the air was heavy
with their scent.
As usual the weaver birds made good use of the shoulder-high grass and began to build a
colony of nests in two trees which overhung our tents. They seemed to feel safe there.
Each morning I woke to the gay chatter of some six hundred weavers all busy building. Most
of them were of the yellow black-headed species who make their nests of grass, but I saw
also some pairs of red-headed weavers who use twigs. It surprised me that they should have
chosen to join the community as they are not usually gregarious.
A pair of the red-heads hung their nest practically above the entrance to my tent and
in spite of our frequent comings and goings tranquilly wove a most beautiful home.
The black-headed weavers began by attaching a grass loop some inches up a twig. Taking
this as a starting point, they used their beaks to thread the grass stalks in and out and
to make complicated knots. In order to do this they were obliged to hang upside down and
they fluttered ceaselessly trying to keep their balance. Busily they flew to and fro
collecting suitable fibre but sometimes a bird returning with a long piece of grass
dangling from its beak would find that while it had been working a lazy weaver had taken
over its nest. They twittered and chirped so much that I sometimes wondered how with all
this chattering they found time to use their beaks for weaving, but in fact they completed
their nests in two or three days; later hundreds of broken egg shells proved that the
young birds had arrived.
The mornings and the evenings were the times at which the parent birds were busiest,
though they often continued to chatter long after our lamps were lit. As neighbours they
had one inconvenience: although the boys cleaned the canvas of our tents daily they were
always coated with droppings.
One morning I found a fledgeling on the ground, chirping unhappily for its mother. I
placed it carefully in a nest which had fallen down and then hung this on a twig, vainly
hoping that the mother bird would come to her crying chick. From now on such accidents
became frequent so I tied a line of nests to our thorn fence in which I placed the
orphans. Each nest had one or two occupants, and whenever I came near the chicks opened
their triangular, yellow-lined beaks and demanded food.
Luckily we were invaded by sugar ants who hide their juicy larvae in dark places, and
these provided an ample supply of food. With the help of forceps I dropped the grubs down
the chicks' throats. I had to be very quick about repeating' the dose for the little birds
nearly fell out of their nests in their attempts to get one more grub, and several of the
older fledgelings who could already make a little use of their wings parachuted on to the
ground. Others I had to hold in my hand and reassure for a long time before they would
accept any food. Most of them were eventually able to look after themselves but a few I
could not save, and I was miserable when I witnessed the long struggle which ended in
In camp evening is the time that I like best, for it is then that one becomes aware of
the monotonous vibrations of the crickets and the rumble of the elephants, the hum of the
bush, pierced occasionally by the cry of some nocturnal animal.
It is then too that one sees the great belt of light, some ten feet wide, formed by
thousands upon thousands of fireflies whose green phosphorescence bridges the
shoulder-high grass. The fluorescent band composed of these tiny organisms lights up and
goes out with a precision which is perfectly synchronized, and one is left wondering what
means of communication they possess which enables them to co-ordinate their shining as
though controlled by a mechanical device.
I had spent many rainy seasons in camp but never before had I seen such a brilliant
'When George returned he brought a zebra for Elsa. This was a special treat. As soon as
she heard the vibrations of the car she 'appeared, spotted the 'kill' and tried to pull
the carcass out of the Landrover. Then, finding it too heavy for her, she walked over to
where the boys were standing and jerking her head at the zebra made it plain that she
needed help. They hauled the heavy animal a short distance amid much laughter and then
waited for Elsa to start her meal. To our astonishment, although zebra was her favourite
meat she did not eat but stood by the river roaring in her loudest voice.
We presumed that she was inviting her mate to join in the feast. This would have been
good lion manners, for according to the recorded habit of prides, whilst the females do
most of the killing, they then have to wait to satisfy their hunger until the lion has had
The next morning, 22nd November, she swam across the heavily flooded river, came up to
the zebra and roared repeatedly in the direction of the rocky range which is on our side
of the river.
I noticed that she had a deep gash across one of her front paws, but she refused to
have it dressed, and after she had eaten as much as she could, she went off towards the
That night it rained for eight hours, and the river turned into a torrent which it
would have been very dangerous for Elsa to cross even though she is a powerful swimmer. I
was therefore very pleased to see her in the morning returning from the Big Rock.
Her knee was very swollen and she allowed me to attend to her cut paw.
I noticed that she had great difficulty in producing her. excrement and when I
inspected the faeces I was surprised to see a rolled-up piece of zebra skin which when
unfolded was as large as a soup plate. The hair had been digested but the hide was half an
inch thick. I marvelled at the capacity of wild animals to rid themselves of such objects
without suffering any internal injury.
For several days she divided her time between us and her lion.
When George returned from a patrol he brought Elsa a goat. Usually she dragged her
'kill' into his tent, presumably to avoid the trouble of having to guard it, but this time
she left it lying beside the car in a spot which could not be seen from the tent. During
the night her mate came and had a good feed; we wondered whether this was what she had
Next evening we took the precaution of placing some meat at a certain distance from the
camp, for we did not want to encourage him to come too close.
Soon after dark we heard him dragging it away and in the morning Elsa joined him.
We were now faced with a problem. We wanted to help Elsa, who was increasingly
handicapped by her pregnancy, by providing her with regular food, but we did not wish to
interfere with her relations with her mate by our continued presence in the camp. He had a
good right to resent this, but did he in fact object to us? On the whole, we thought that
he did not, and I think we were justified in our opinion for, during the next six months,
though we did not see him, we often heard his characteristic ten or twelve whuffing grunts
and recognized his spoor, which proved that he remained Elsa's constant companion.
Though he still kept out of our sight, he had become bolder and bolder, but an
extraordinary kind of truce seemed to have been established between us. He had come to
know our routine as' intimately as we had come to know his habits. He shared Elsa's
company with us and we thought that in return he could fairly expect an occasional meal as
In view of his attitude we stilled our qualms of conscience and stayed on.
One afternoon walking with Elsa through the bush we came upon a large boulder with a
crack in it. She sniffed cautiously, pulled a grimace and did not seem anxious to go
closer to it. Next we heard a hissing and, expecting a snake to appear, George held our
shotgun ready; but what emerged from the crack was the broad head of a monitor lizard who
soon wriggled out into the open. He was an enormous size, about five feet long and nearly
a foot broad and he had blown himself up to his fullest capacity. He extended his neck,
moved his long forked tongue rapidly and lashed out with his tail so violently that Elsa
thought it wise to retreat.
Sitting at a safe distance, I admired his courage; although he had no means of defence
except his threatening appearance and thrashing tail, which he used like a crocodile, he
chose to come out and face the danger, rather than find himself trapped in the crack.
On our way home we climbed to the top of Elsa's, favourite rock and took some
photographs of her. She' posed beautifully until she heard her lion calling from just
below, then she went down the rock into a steep ravine. Watching her, I was amazed that'
such a heavy animal should be able to keep its balance on the almost vertical rock face.
For a few days we saw little of her but as we often heard her lion roaring and
frequently saw his pug marks we did not worry.
On the 1st December in the afternoon she came back and accompanied us when we walked to
a rain pool; there she lay at the water's edge while I sat next to her and killed the
tsetse flies which, in the failing light, were beginning to bite. While doing so, I read
the 'bush newspaper in terms of the freshly imprinted spoor which surrounded the pool.
Suddenly I heard George give a whistle and looking up saw a herd of some twenty buffalo
cows, many of them followed by calves, making their way to the water.
Elsa stared at the herd, raised herself very cautiously to a crouching position, with
her head on her paws, and then suddenly rushed at top speed towards the herd. There was a
thundering noise and the crash of breaking wood as the buffaloes bolted with Elsa in hot
We ran after her as fast as we could and found her facing a thicket, panting hard. From
within the bush came the angry snorting of the buffaloes; they had evidently rallied and
were preparing to defend their young. A moment later several enraged cows charged Elsa
who, recognizing her limitations, withdrew, keeping in line with George, myself and
Makedde. Then she made a series of quick thrusts forward, but returned equally fast to her
George waited until the herd was within about fifteen yards of us, then he and Makedde
shouted and each waved one arm, holding his rifle in the other. The animals were puzzled
by this strange performance and after a moment of indecision turned and made off.
After a while we followed, but we took good care to make certain that no buffalo was
waiting to ambush us for they are notoriously dangerous creatures.
Next morning George had to leave; I stayed on and Elsa spent three days in camp with me
in spite of the continual calling of her mate.
One evening she looked towards the river, stiffened and then 'rushed into the bush. A
tremendous barking of baboons ensued, till it was silenced by her roars. Soon she was
answered by her lion - he must have been only about fifty yards away. His voice seemed to
shake the earth and increased in strength. From the other side Elsa roared back. Sitting
between them, I became a little anxious in case the' loving pair should decide to come
into my tent, for I had no meal to offer them. However, in time they appeared to have
roared themselves hoarse. Their whuffings died away and no further sound came from the
bush except for the buzzing of insects. Luckily on the following evening George returned
with a goat for Elsa.
During the rainy season the atmosphere is so full of humidity that raw meat goes bad
quickly, often in less than two days. In order to preserve the remains of Elsa's meals for
as long as possible we improvised a bush fridge! We wrapped a' lot of foliage around the
meat to prevent flies from laying their eggs in it and then we hung it from the branch of
a shady tree about two feet above the ground.
This tree stood at a short distance from the home of a monitor, which was occupied at
the time by an adult and a youngster who had just shed his skin. One morning, on my way to
the studio, I caught sight of the old monitor looking greedily at the bundle which was
dangling just outside his reach. He saw me and beat a hasty retreat, but soon afterwards I
heard a rustling in the leaves and there was the young monitor. I kept absolutely still;
making several detours, he came to within a few feet of me. When he seemed to have
satisfied himself that I was harmless he went home. Next the old monitor, who had
obviously sent out his offspring as a scout, reappeared and advanced stealthily towards
the meat. For a time he sat beneath the bundle contemplating it, then he jumped at it,
touched it and fell back. After this he repeated his jumps until he finally got a grip and
disappeared into the larder.
I gave him time to have a good meal, then I clapped my hands, and immediately he fell
to the ground with a plop. He looked quite ridiculous, for his mouth was still full of
meat which dangled out on both sides. Instead of bolting he sat motionless staring at me
as though he hoped to mesmerize me. As I did not move he was evidently reassured, for
though he never took his eyes off me, he began to gulp as fast as he could and did not
waddle off until he had finished his mouthful.
See also: Living Free (Video)