Lions and Planes and Museums…oh my!

Have you ever flown to another city, toured something and flew back in the same day? Well I
recently tried it and let me tell you it’s a whirlwind! Back in September I talked me dad into flying with
me to Chicago to visit the world famous Field museum. The museum is packed full of so many incredible
exhibits but our main reason for going was to see the fearsome Tsavo Man-Eaters!

Most people know of the lions from the 1996 film The Ghost and the Darkness. If you have never
heard of them here’s a little history. In March of 1898 Great Britain started building a bridge over the
Tsavo river in Kenya for the railroad. The man in charge was Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson,
an avid sportsman. Patterson faced problem after problem, everything from the terrain to the crew
themselves. The Hindu workers form India often clashed with the local Muslim workers.

His problems were just beginning though. Over approximately nine months two maneless male
lions begin coming into the camp at night dragging helpless workers out of their tents. Patterson tried
everything from fires, walls around the camp made of thorn bushes, setting traps and even staying up all
night in the trees watching for them but the lions kept out smarting him. Workers became terrified
naming them “The Ghost” and “The Darkness”. Some believed they were evil spirits or even demons.
They began fleeing by the hundreds causing construction to stop completely.

According to Patterson the first lion was shot on December 9 th , 1898. The second was shot at
nine times over a period of about two weeks before it was killed. The lion had lived for days with three
bullet wounds before Patterson delivered the three shots that killed it. Patterson claims 135 people
were killed by the lions but researchers say the count is probably closer to 28. Terrifying no matter how

Why were the lions doing this? If you take a look at the skulls on display both lions had major
problems with their teeth that would have caused them severe pain. Due to this pain they would have
been looking for much slower, softer prey. Unfortunately they happened upon this camp that was
nowhere near prepared for them. After the two lions were killed work resumed and the bridge was
completed in February 1899.

Back to the trip part of this story! We left Wichita at 6:30AM. It was my dad’s first flight so it was
really neat for me to be there with him! After arriving at Chicago O’hare airport we hoped on the train,
another first for my dad. Boy that was something else trying to make sure we got on the right train each
time we needed to switch! We opted to walk the last mile to the museum. Taking in the bustling city
with its huge skyscrapers.

We spend about five hours at the museum marveling at everything such as Sue the T-rex and
the ancient Egypt exhibit. We could have spent days there! We opted for a taxi back to the airport and
arrived back in Wichita about 10PM. We were beat but these are memories we’ll never forget!

~Written by board member Billi Jo Rhone

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