Jake the Lion


Jake the Lion, graphite on watercolor paper.

I had the privilege of drawing again today at the Burke Museum’s Mammalogy lab. Jeff, who runs the place, asked me what I’d like to draw, and I gave him only the vague answer of “some kind of interesting skull.” He suggested a carnivore and brought out the skull of a lion.


This lion turned out to be not just any lion, but Jake, who lived at the Woodland Park Zoo for about 20 years. He passed away in May, 2011.

Jake started out at the zoo living alone, but after a few years he was introduced to a new female lion named Juanita. The two became close and got along very well their whole lives.


I can’t help wondering about the animals I draw, and now I know exactly whom I was spending the day with today. I read that Jake loved to roar, and that made me smile. What a beautiful, amazing animal.