Cuddles out of Africa
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.