Few things have ever incited me to make rash and reckless decisions like this fifteen minute video of Kevin Richardson, the man referred to as “The Lion Whisperer,” hugging, cuddling, and playing with wild lions in slow motion. Now all I want is to book a flight to Africa and get my cuddle on with every lion in sight.
Needless to say, that would be a terrible idea, so I settled for watching it on repeat and looking at a zillion pictures of Richardson and his furry friends on Google Images.
(I strongly suggest that you check out this link to see all of these incredible and “awww” inspiring pictures for yourself)
Richardson, a 39 year old self-taught animal behaviorist, runs a wildlife sanctuary in South Africa. Although his up close and personal interactions with wild lions and hyenas have garnered him some heavy criticism around the interwebs, Richardson isn’t just some fanatic, and the video serves a greater purpose than simply to entertain, or advertise for Google’s GoPro…
A study conducted by Duke suggests the lion population in Africa has gone from around 100,000 to only 32,000 in the past 50 years. Despite this, Lions are not officially listed as an endangered species, meaning their plight does not get the attention or protection that it deserves.
So how exactly does hugging lions help preserve the species? In Richardson’s words “What I have been able to do with my unique relationship is capture people’s attention.” He hopes that by publicizing himself and his relationships with these magnificent creatures, he will generate enough buzz and awareness that others will take a stand in order to save not only our few remaining lions, but our environment as a whole, and all of the amazing creatures who inhabit it. His message is simple;
“We want to set a precedent to tell the world that we love our iconic species, the lion, and we are there to protect it.”