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The Babysitter

Carl Brenders

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It is a big dilemma when one has to choose the most favorite among the biggest species of wild cats, the lion or the tiger. Usually when I paint one of them, at that moment it becomes my favorite, because by painting it, one discovers more of the incredible beauty of this wild creature. The lion has his own beauty because he is the only cat that has a mane. But the tiger has those irresistible colors with those black stripes combined with white — a delight for an animal painter. I even forget the beauty of the cougar when I paint one of those two big guys. So, I couldn’t decide!

The most wonderful fieldwork on a dream trip to the Okavango in Botswana in Southern Africa made me choose the lion.

We followed a lion pride a full day. One female had given birth to two cubs. Females separate from the pride until the cubs are about one month old. Then she joins the pride again, or the pride joins her, and that was exactly what we witnessed. When the pride found her in the bush, everybody wanted to greet and sniff the newborn pride members. The mother didn’t want the other cubs close to the new ones. Their games were too rough, the babies too delicate and fragile. So the males stayed away from that nice scene and watched the cubs, which after playing like kids, settled down. This was the moment that inspired me for this painting. I saw those males as real babysitters. So the choice of the title for this piece was not difficult: "The Babysitter."

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