a woman bends down to feed lions in a zoo enclosure

Think you’re a football fan? Meet a Queenslander with a real-life lion and bronco

Once you get Stephanie Robinson talking about her beloved lions, the conversation sounds like one many football fans in Queensland are having this week.

“Lions are majestic and defensive, and just so powerful, always looking for a reaction — they’re showmen,” she said.

The thing is, she’s talking about real lions.

“Well, teams try to embody their mascot, don’t they,” Ms Robinson laughs.

While the sunshine state has jumped on the Brisbane Lions bandwagon this week ahead of their AFL Grand Final match against the Collingwood Magpies at the MCG on Saturday, Ms Robinson has been busy tending to her own pride of lions at the Darling Downs Zoo.

And when her work is done, it’s off to the horse paddock to see her broncos.

Stephanie Robinson has several horses on her Pilton property.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

Yes, Ms Robinson is probably the only Queenslander who lives with actual lions and broncos.

And you thought you were a fan.

“The bronco is just a bit of a wild child,” she explains.

“They’re fiery, exciting and loyal, and they’ve got a wicked kick.”

Brisbane Broncos fans will be hoping their team embodies that same spirit, as it takes on the Penrith Panthers in the NRL Grand Final at Homebush on Sunday night.

Mascot vs mascot

Ms Robinson is quick to admit she’s not an authority on football coaching, but as someone who spends all day with animals, she may have an insight into how a bronco might fare against a real-life panther.

“It’s a tough one, it would depend on who gets the first shot,” she said.

“If the bronco kicked right the first time, it’d be fine.”

And at the MCG?

“Well, a magpie wouldn’t stand a chance against our lions,” she said.

But pies aren’t on the menu at the lion enclosure.

“Lions don’t have to eat every day. They won’t be getting breakfast on Saturday morning,” Ms Robinson said.

“But they will probably be getting dinner Saturday night. So, I’m hoping that’ll be a celebratory dinner.”

And in that meal?

“One of the best meats for big cats is actually horse,” Ms Robinson said, as she offered 11-year-old Kwanza a piece of meat on the end of a long pair of tongs.

Sorry Broncos, there can only be one king of the jungle.

a woman bends down to feed lions in a zoo enclosure

What makes a good meal for a lion? Horse, of course.(ABC Southern Qld: Peter Gunders)

For the love of the game

Just like their maroon, blue and gold-wearing namesakes, the white and tawny male lions at the zoo are also trying to score at present.

“The boys are recognising that spring is in the air, and they’re all quite excited about the girls,” Ms Robinson said.

“They’ve been growling and telling everyone to stay away … it’s their family time at the moment.”

It is a long way from the dusty paddocks that surround the lion enclosure at the zoo to the turf of the MCG.

But if Ms Robinson was to give a three-quarter time coaches speech to Brisbane tomorrow, she knows exactly what she’d tell the team.

“They call the lion family a pride for a very good reason,” she said.

Then she points at her chest, right where the gold lion silhouette sits on the football guernsey.

“That pride. That strength. That’s what they need.”



Author: Russell White