'Terry the Lion', was a lion who - as a cub - found his way to Fort Doppies, where he was adopted by the Special Forces Operators.

Terry lived life as he pleased in and around Fort Doppies. He wandered off into the bush whenever he felt like it – sometimes for long periods – but would always be back to welcome the Operators when they arrived in the base prior to or after a deployment or training. He enjoyed the company of people, and would often sit in the pub or the lounge at night while the Operators and Support Personnel chatted amongst each other.

Obviously, there are many stories to be told about Terry and his long and happy relationship with the Recces.

One night, one of the Operators was tasked to give Terry some food, as he was occasionally fed while at Fort Doppies. This particular Operator did not appreciate being tasked to do this job in his free time, and was quite annoyed. Taking the meat for Terry, he went to look for him, and found him not far outside the front gate of Fort Doppies. It appeared to the Operator that Terry was in an uncharacteristically bad mood, as he growled at the Operator, and made striking movements with his front paws. Terry also didn’t look in good shape. The Operator was also not in a good mood at having been tasked to feed Terry, and this unusual and annoying behaviour towards him by the Lion further annoyed him. The Operator therefore unceremoniously threw the meat towards Terry instead of taking it right up to him, and stood there shouting at the Lion for a few minutes. He then went back into Fort Doppies and walked into the pub – where he saw Terry sitting at the feet of the other Operators.

In later times, Terry used to like walking into the Operators sleeping quarters during the night or early hours of the morning, and would jump on top of them in their beds and try to go to sleep there – while crushing them. Terry’s sudden appearance would also terrify the few visitors who occasionally entered Fort Doppies. As a result of this, some anti-Terry barriers were erected around the housing during period when visitors were going to visit, or when the Operators needed a good night’s sleep. Visitors coming to Fort Doppies who had not been there before were also informed about Terry when they arrived.

At one stage, a group of cabinet ministers arrived for a visit to Fort Doppies. This visit was not looked forward to by the Operators due to their apolitical mentality, and the fact that some of the statements that had previously been made by one of these cabinet ministers in South Africa did not conform with the Operators view of human relations in our country.

Therefore, when the group arrived, it was neglected to inform them of the existence of Terry, and it was also neglected to inform them that the toilets at Fort Doppies were situated well outside the anti-Terry barriers. To this day, no-one can figure out how we actually forgot to tell them, or how we forgot to task anyone to tell them.

Consequently, and possibly through a stroke of grace, the very person who had made the unwelcome statements decided to go to the toilet first, which he did. Having completed what he went to do, he opened the door of his toilet cubicle to leave, and found himself face-to-face with a huge male lion, sitting on its haunches right outside his toilet cubicle, looking him right in the eyes.

Although some of the Operators in retrospect thought that they heard the screams as they started, this just happened to coincidentally coincide with the volume of the radio in the lounge being turned up substantially so that nothing more could be heard, and so it was not until several hours later that the person’s disappearance was noted, and a rescue party was launched – which strangely enough started searching on the opposite side of the base to the toilets, and arrived only much later at the last point of search – the toilets – where a very peaceful Terry had fallen asleep outside the only closed and bolted cubicle.

Fort Doppies was never visited by these people again.