Kevin Richardson, the man who is considered the Lion Whisperer has harsh words for safari parks that condone interactions with big cats and tourists.
His words sting especially after the tragic death of a tiger handler at Hamerton Zoo this past week. He claims that Safari parks are merely contributing to the illegal capture of big cats and not doing much for conservation.
“Today’s lion cub becomes tomorrow’s trophy, and the unsuspecting tourists have blood on their hands. The tourists have been hoodwinked into believing that their contribution of funds is going into lion conservation,” he told the Daily Mail.
Though he was referring to the “cub petting” safari parks in South Africa and worldwide which sell grown up cubs to be hunted as trophies, his sentiment also speaks volumes about zoo culture and the way these wild animals are contained.
He’s also given his two cents regarding why big cats attack, in a video on his YouTube channel he mused on how easy it is for big cats to lose their natural fear of people, and their tendency to develop “points of obsession” due to boredom which may be what happened in Hamerton.
Richardson is especially extraordinary for the way he interacts with the lions in his sanctuary in Africa; he claims that he’s avoided an attack by requesting to be a member of the lion pride.
“I have been accepted as part of the pride,” said Richardson. “But I have to be very careful. They are large animals and are very good at telling you how they feel.”
His wildlife area in South Africa is where he keeps a large amount of rescued lions on 3,200 acres of wild property; they seem healthy and happy judging by the many clips he uploads to his channel.
His lifestyle and opinions are something to consider; perhaps we need to reassess how we save these animals and what kind of life they deserve. As he said, they are very good at telling you how they feel, especially when they’re not happy.