Folklore on Why the Lion Is King of the Forest

The lion is universally considered as king of the jungle. How did this come about? A local folklore has this to say.

According to this folklore, one day all the animals in the forest were having fun. Actually, they were having a family outing. All of them, with their families and packed lunches, gathered in the forest for some games and food. The folklore says, the policy that day was that nobody would be hunted down to be eaten. They had to bring a packed lunch they had hunted the day before, the folklore says.

After the fun and food, they decided to sit down and talk about the forest they all loved. According to the folklore, they decided that it had to be protected, and that meant there had to be a leader among them who’d spearhead its protection and probably also lay down some policy to govern forest laws. So, the folklore says, they agreed to have an election for kingship. They decided that’s all they’d ever need—a king. They decided they would have no problem with an authoritarian monarch, the folklore adds.

Several animals were nominated to be the king. The folklore enumerates that nominated were the tiger, the leopard, the elephant, the lion, and many others who were deemed fearless and tough in the jungle. This election was chaired by the ape. Finally, the folklore says, the squirrels closed the nomination, and everybody was ready to vote. Just then, a question was raised. Chairman ape was asked if each candidate could display its physical power before the constituents. So the ape entertained a motion which was seconded by the body. But then, the folklore says, a terrible earthquake suddenly occurred. Big rocks came rolling down from the mountains, killing many animals.

When the earthquake stopped, the animals found chairman ape among the trapped animals. The folklore says the candidates tried rescuing the old animal but to no avail. The tiger was not strong enough, the leopard said he’d rather eat chairman ape, while the elephant was too big he might pin the ape to death. It was only the lion that was able to free the old animal unharmed using his strength and wit. When chairman ape recovered, he declared the lion king, and all the animals agreed.

This folklore explains how strength and wit placed the lion as the undisputed king of the forest—even nullifying the need for a democratic election.

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