Where did they get the lions?

Easter weekend is the perfect time to ask this question: Knowing they'd get likely eaten by lions, why didn't the early Christians abandon their religion... or at least hide from the Romans? After all, before Easter, Peter denied he even knew Jesus—so that he could avoid any trouble. You'd think that the prospect of getting your flesh ripped from your body by a hungry lion would be enough to get you to follow a more Roman-friendly god. And by their own admission, on Easter morning, the followers of Jesus were a bunch of scaredy-cats, hiding in a locked room. Next thing you know, they're willing lion-food. What gives?

They saw a dead guy come back to life. That'll pretty much do it. (A film I made details how this all went down. Here is a preview... and here's where you can view the whole thing online.)  But for this blog, I thought it worthy to ask a geography-related question: Where did the Romans get all those lions?! They certainly can’t be found in the Italian countryside. And the Romans needed a lot of lions. As many as 600 would be released at a single event. The Roman bloodlust wasn’t satisfied by lions alone; they also imported tigers, hippos, giraffes and rhinos. To get a reliable supply these exotic species, the Romans needed a trade route to central Africa—and that meant they had to find a way to get these animals across the Sahara Desert. For the rest of this surprising story—and a much bigger and better map, go here.

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