It is late summer and you wander through the garden of beasts, the Tiergarten, along the waters of the Neuer See. You are deep among the trees, and soon you see wildlife among the branches, a grimace reflected in the pool. Is that a roar you hear, or some other sound from the greenery?
For five years this bridge, the Löwenbrücke (Lions’ bridge), has been blocked. The animals are caged and whimper with melancholy purrs through the bars. What have we done to deserve this maltreatment? No one even feeds us. Before we used to have so many visitors. The drag queens who used to paint the toenails of our paws bright colours. Or the men in tight trousers who’d hang around, draped over the railings, making eyes with us until we wagged our tails.
We’ve been popular since we were first modeled by Hesse and Tieck in 1838, after a crossing in Saint Petersburg, to be the first suspension bridge in Berlin. 18 m long, and the only one to survive the Second World War! Our wooden structure was stripped and burnt, but we lions survived to guard the only span of our kind left in the city. But since 2008, we’ve been closed, thanks to the Senatsverwaltung für Stadtentwicklung who consider us dangerous. Why do we frighten them? Is it our big teeth?
Apparently our wood is rotten, the structure unsound, and only in 2014 will the city begin to reconstruct us according to our historic model. Did it really take them five years simply to draft the plans? How much longer will that take to complete the actual construction when it begins next year? Which will open first, the Löwenbrücke or the Berlin Brandenburg Airport?
We might warn the city what happens if we get impatient. You might find us breaking free from our cage, and wandering late at night, the moon reflecting dully from our haunches. You’ll know where we are because you will hear suspicious cries from the bushes.