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Date: Fri, 28 Apr 1995 15:31:23 -0600 (MDT)
From: SLHKS[at]-remove-cc.usu.edu
Subject: Ben Silcock

I've became interested in what's been said lately about the song "Ben"
(off of _...Love Bus_), so I got onto my college's LEXIS/NEXIS database and did
a little research. Here's a little summary of my findings:

* *Ben Silcock, 27, climbed into the Lion House at the London Zoo on New
Year's Eve 1992 with "oven ready" chickens in an apparent attempt to feed the
giant cats.
* *A number of people looked on and a zoo keeper yelled at Ben to try to
stop him, but Ben was successful in climbing down to the lion area. Once he
made it down an embankment to the lions, he was attacked and maulled by Arfur,
a giant Asiatic lion. According to one eye-witness, "It [the lion] had its
mouth around his waist. It shook him around like a rag doll. It was horrible
and frightening." (Reported in the Daily Mail, Jan. 1, 1993, Pg. 1)
* *Ben was seriously injured, and remained unconscious until a paramedic
arrived. He was then rushed to a hospital, where he underwent hours of
emergency and was brought back to a stable condition, surviving the attack.
* *Many people speculated on his reasons for entering the lion house.
Some said it was a suicide attempt. Others said that perhaps he was connected
to an animal rights group, as someone reportedly had heard him yell, "Free
these animals." A spokesman for the police stated: "This appears to be
carefully planned. You cannot blame the lions for what happened and I see no
reason why the animal should be destroyed." (source: ibid.)
* *It was soon revealed that Ben was schitzophrenic [sp?] (not mentally
retarded, as someone said, but mentally ill). Ben's father, Bryan Silcock, a
London journalist, remarked, "Ben has always felt a deep involement with
animals, although he's not a member of any animal rights organisation. I can
only guess at his motives for climbing into the lions' enclosure. But the
illusion that he could establish a some kind of mystical contact with them
would be consistent with ideas he has expressed in the past." Neighbors also
reported that Ben had a special fondness for cats.
* *Ben's tragedy was a big news story in England for a time, and sparked
a debate over mental health care. Members of Parliament wanted to make sure
that mental health treatment was manditory and increase security for mental
hospitals in the London area. Ben, however, had tried to admit himself just
before the incident, but had been refused because he had seemed coherent (a
common situation for schitzophrenics). This explains the last verse in the
song. ("Now there rounding up the ones who got away./ From the place they
wouldn't even let you get in./ Liars and theives with their crap about
caring/ Are hardly the friends that you need.")

-Greg B (more in a bit...)

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