Zoologist and self-taught animal behaviorist Kevin Richardson, aka “The Lion Whisperer,” has a unique relationship with animals that has been cultivated over years of caring for large predators like lions. His affinity for animals began at an early age with smaller creatures he kept as pets, including crickets and a toad named “Paddajie.” Eventually Richardson’s fascination with wildlife grew to a degree that led him to break the rules of safety and get in close with carnivorous wildlife.
Richardson’s bond with animals leaves most questioning their tactics. His biography explains: “He does not use the common methods of breaking the animal’s spirit with sticks and chains, instead he uses love, understanding and trust. With this unusual method of training he has developed some exceptionally personal bonds with his students. He sleeps with lions, cuddles newborn hyenas, and swims with lionesses. Kevin can confidently look into their eyes, crouch to their level and even lie down with them – all taboos in the normal world of wild animal handling – yet he doesn’t get mauled or attacked.”
While the lion whisperer understands that his furry companions are dangerous and shouldn’t simply be treated as another human being, he maintains that they are creatures with their own personalities and feelings. He is also fully aware of the dangers of working with lions, but insists that he wouldn’t give up his relationships with them because of the risk.
Though it’s not recommended for others to try and immediately form a bond with lions as Richardson has, the zoologist offers a hands-on volunteering program in South Africa at The Kingdom (Richardson’s own wildlife sanctuary) to help take care of the animals and literally get your hands dirty.