42-year-old Kevin Richardson, is known as the “lion whisperer,” and when the huge predator named Meg jumps into the pond it’s only to cuddle up with him…one would think he’s doomed. But that is far from the case. Richardson has an incredible bond with the massive cats and they absolutely adore him.
“When I call Meg and she comes swimming and I see in her face, ‘if I come to you are you going to catch me?'” he says. “She looks at me, I look at her—and we know. That’s trust.” It’s a trust that only comes when a human is accepted by lions as part of their “pack,” which has taken Richardson years of work to achieve.
Lions do not like the water, so to have a lion trust a human enough to enter the water…is a very big deal.
Richardson runs a wildlife sanctuary near Pretoria, South Africa, where more than 30 lions and an assortment of hyenas and other large cats are free to roam around the 3,200 acre park. Many of the animals, including Meg, have been raised by Richarson since they were just cubs.
Unlike many wild life reserves, Richardson does not allow guests to pet the cats or take pictures with them. Typically in other reserves, those cats that tourists are taking selfies with, end up being sold to game reserves and they are shot by hunters. (Not cool by the way).
“The relationships I have with them are purely to give them a better quality of life in a captive situation,” Richardson told AP. “I will look after them as long as I can.” When it is finally time to say goodbye, Richardson guarantees his animals will go to a reputable zoo or shelter where they will be protected.