Graham takes a journey to South Africa to sit down with the Lion Whisperer, Kevin Richardson. Richardson shares how he went from being a personal trainer to a conservationist, building a bond with these amazing animals. The Lion Whisperer also discusses what he is doing to combat some of the worst facets of his industry: breeding and canned hunting. Plus, Richardson opens up about how his childhood ignited his passion for wildlife, and introduces Graham to a few of his favorite companions.
Conservationist and lion expert Kevin Richardson says that it is highly likely wild lions will no longer exist. The animals are suffering what the Lion Whisperer calls a “silent extinction” due to the disappearance of up to 95% of their habitat. As lions lose their habitat, there is increasing conflict with local herdsmen.
Conservationist and expert Kevin Richardson details how he became interested in lions, and the two animals that opened his eyes to how lions were treated as commodities in the breeding industry. Richardson had to go against the man who had brought him into the lion business, a wealthy and powerful businessman. Plus, Richardson describes the barriers that exist, both culturally and economically, to protecting lions in captivity.
Conservationist and lion expert Kevin Richardson explains the impact of trophy hunting on African wildlife. The Lion Whisperer explains why it is possible to hunt endangered species in some African nations, and why he hates “canned hunting,” a con perpetrated on tourists.
Kevin Richardson always wanted to take control, and a feature film allowed him to do just that. Part of his deal with the film’s creators was that he would retain co-ownership of the lions. Following the movie, he removed the lions to a new facility, while struggling with being associated with a business that commodifies lions. All the while, Richardson remained staunch that he would not be rescuing any more lions, he wanted his numbers to get smaller, not larger, but a phone call changed all that.
Conservationist and lion expert Kevin Richardson is the youngest of four children, and was largely brought up by his brother and sisters because his parents worked. Richardson, known as the Lion Whisperer, used to believe that he grew up poor, but now understands that compared to many, he was privileged. Still, his sparse upbringing made him financially cautious.
Kevin Richardson’s mother was told by a doctor that she should have her accident prone youngest child take up sewing. As a boy, Richardson was always getting hurt playing with friends and siblings, and describes how he lost part of his toe.
Kevin Richardson grew up surrounded by animals, but home was not a nice place to be. Because of alcoholism, fighting, and financial hardships, Richardson would spend more time at the homes of friends. The Lion Whisperer describes how he escaped his unpleasant home life, and why he was relieved when his father died. Plus, he tells the story of how joy-riding in his sister’s car went horribly wrong, and how he borrowed his brother’s license.
Kevin Richardson started dating the daughter of a local martial artist, and it was through training with that man that Richardson reignited his passion for animals. Richardson became a physical trainer, and when he didn’t get into veterinary school, he started to focus on rehabilitating people. But it was ultimately the training of his human clients that brought him back to the lions.
Early in his career, Kevin Richardson was told his style of interacting with the lions was dangerous. Richardson believed that he should relate to the lions the way they do with each other, and communicate in their language, without using weapons. His method and skill sets have evolved, he said, to mutually benefit the lions.
The Lion Whisperer Kevin Richardson responds to critics, those on social media and from within his industry. Richardson says he has seen a lot of hypocrisy, those who speak out against him now were the beneficiaries of his relationship with the lions not too long ago.
Kevin Richardson, the Lion Whisperer, said that his first encounter with hyenas was colored by his love of lions, they were just smelly, rotten scoundrels who were just there to give lions a hard time. But as he got to know the hyenas, he became fascinated by them. Richardson describes learning about the animals, including trying to determine whether or not they were male or female, which was more difficult than he originally thought. Plus, he describes some of the difficulties of being the mother to lion cubs.
Conservationist and lion expert Kevin Richardson discusses the close calls he has had with the lions in his care, including crawling away from a lioness protecting her cubs. Richardson said he keeps himself safe by trusting his gut, but sometimes he would ignore those instincts in the face of pressure from others to perform. Plus, he recounts how it feels to get charged and jumped on by a playful big cat.
Kevin Richardson speaks to the danger in his daily life with the lions, equating it to the same level of risk taken on by free-climber Alex Honnold or Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton. Richardson says yes, his job is dangerous, but to stop would be like cutting out a piece of his heart.
In 2018, a 22-year-old woman was mauled to death by a lion at Kevin Richardson’s sanctuary. The Lion Whisperer describes the lasting impact the accident has had on his staff, and how he is coping with it personally.
Kevin Richardson discusses why, and how, he established his not-for-profit organization, the Kevin Richardson Foundation. The foundation, founded in 2018, seeks to protect lions through purchasing and protecting habitat, and raising awareness. Richardson discusses the future of his sanctuary, and the foundation.
Kevin Richardson, the Lion Whisperer, takes host Graham Bensinger on a tour of his facility in South Africa. Richardson introduces several lions, hyenas, and panthers, and shows the amazing bond he has with these potentially dangerous animals.