Cud­dles out of Africa

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN An Evening with Kevin Richard­son — The Lion Whis­perer is at the Hy­att Re­gency next Sun­day.

FOR Kevin Richard­son, cud­dling up to one of na­ture’s most fear­some preda­tors is no more daunt­ing than the daily com­mute to the South African lion sanc­tu­ary that bears his name.

And af­ter two decades work­ing closely with the iconic an­i­mals, the man known around the globe as the Lion Whis­perer rates the risk of in­jury or death about the same.

On the eve of his visit to Perth this week the 43-year-old gave The

Sun­day Times an in­sight into the “kings of the jun­gle”.

“Once you get to know lions, the dif­fer­ences in char­ac­ter and per­son­al­ity quirks are just as ob­vi­ous as in your pet dog,” he said. “Some lions have a sense of humour, they can be grumpy or happy and some are just anti-so­cial.

“Some you can in­ter­act with and some you can’t. If you don’t re­spect that, you can’t be shocked if you land up in hos­pi­tal or dead.

“It would be just like go­ing into a bar and pick­ing a fight with the big­gest, mean­est guy there.”

Clips of Mr Richard­son hug­ging and play-fight­ing with lions have been viewed mil­lions of times on­line and he has starred in doc­u­men­taries and movies, with pro­ceeds go­ing to­wards fund­ing his work sav­ing lions.

The fa­ther of two will be in Perth to speak at a fundraiser for Painted Dog Con­ser­va­tion, a char­ity founded by Perth Zoo’s John Lemon. The money raised will be used to fund the re­moval of snares from African re­serves.

Big cat: Kevin Richard­son, aka the Lion Whis­perer, at his sanc­tu­ary in South Africa, where he’s of­ten filmed hug­ging and play-fight­ing with lions.

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