Hello, I am Kevin Richardson – my fans call me The Lion Whisperer. I’ve been working hands-on with big cats for 17 years. My method of approaching wildlife allows me to develop close, personal, and physical relationships with lions, leopards, hyenas, and other predators. I reject the idea of “breaking an animal’s spirit” – instead I use love, understanding, and trust to develop relationships with animals, and I treat them as individuals. I have made many documentaries about wildlife in my career. My next show is a 2-part series called Killer IQ: Lions vs. Hyena, premiering tonight at 8 PM on Smithsonian Channel in the US.

Changing people’s minds about these remarkable animals and the challenges they face is one of my passions. Ask me anything!

My Proof: http://imgur.com/4H4aQIO

EDIT: That's all I have time for today. Thank you for all the great questions Reddit! Best - Kevin

Comments: 174 • Responses: 37  • Date: 

Frajer34 karma

How many people think you're in the Backstreet Boys ?

KevinLionWhisperer27 karma

That is hysterical and a commonly stated fact. People find it amazing that I can sing so well and interact with lions! I think they're horrified to find out that I'm a different person!

tragic-waste-of-skin24 karma


What's your opinion on this? http://i.imgur.com/NKWyApx.gif

It was posted the other day on Reddit. That's the look of a very angry animal.

KevinLionWhisperer37 karma

Looks like someone in front of it is making it angry not the guy next to it. Still not wise to put yourself in that situation. But more worrying is why the guy sitting there allows it. Not good

ACuddlyFox18 karma

This one was also posted on Reddit yesterday, what's your opinion on this one? http://i.imgur.com/ose0MfD.gifv I'm like 80% sure that's a lion

KevinLionWhisperer30 karma

Seen that happen at the park I used to work at many many moons ago. Lions are always curious and tug at things. In this case a car door handle and it opened which surprised the lion and the people in the car!

renzer06 karma

this picture comes from this instagram.. not sure that I really like that (they're apparently treated as "pets") but they seem healthy... https://instagram.com/humaidalbuqaish/?modal=true

KevinLionWhisperer14 karma

Not sure it send the right message.

mberlin220 karma

Hi Kevin!

Are there any signals that let you know when not to approach the lions?

KevinLionWhisperer36 karma

Good question: Yes like people they show signs. Obviously knowing the individual helps just like in humans. A few easily detected signs are flicking tails or flattened ears. Crouched position, etc. I also go with my senses. If it doesn't feel right I don't approach

SpontaneousDownvotes13 karma

Hi, Kevin! Thank you for doing this AMA!

What was your scariest moment in your career?

KevinLionWhisperer23 karma

Probably when Tsavo 'attacked' me. It was early in my career and I misinterpreted a few things. All ended well though and I learnt a stack

bitelulz12 karma

What's your favorite memory of working with these amazing animals?

What can people do to help with conservation efforts?

KevinLionWhisperer26 karma

Fond memory was witnessing Meg hunt. What a privilege to have been part of it and to be allowed to be at the kill. People can spread awareness. It really does help. Watching my channel also directly helps as views equal money. Watch Killer IQ on Smithsonian Channel. It'll enlighten you

brockbot12 karma

Hey Kevin - can you explain the general structure of a lion pride? It's clear that they are very hierarchical. Where do you fit into the prides that you're a member of?

KevinLionWhisperer24 karma

They don't have a strict hierarchy. They are egalitarian. Nice word - Check it out in the dictionary. Having said that you do need to fit into the structure that they have. Generally a pride consists of one to two males but can be even five or seven and then three to five females. Can be more. Females are all related to some degree. Young males when around two get forcibly kicked out the pride by their fathers/uncles. this prevents inbreeding. Pride males only have tenure for two to three years and then are challenged.

CommanderNinja11 karma

I've watched quite a few of the documentary's you've made along with that I'm subscribed to Lion Whisperer TV You're doing some incredible work, my question is, how do you bond so well with them? I assume if its from birth they see you as one of the pride? Maybe I'm completely wrong but I would love to know! Thanks!

KevinLionWhisperer19 karma

Thank you! Yes its better to start when they are young however some of my best relationships are with lions I met over a year. They're all individuals and must be treated as such

Topaz03710 karma

Hi Kevin! Thank you for this opportunity to ask you a question. What is it that you love the most about hyenas? Of the ones that you care for, do you have a favorite?

KevinLionWhisperer17 karma

I love their beauty and intelligence. I love their complexity and gentleness yet aggressiveness. No sole favourites but a few close to my heart like Geena and Monty. Bongo and Tika also up there as well as Vinci

samueldavidson10 karma

Kevin, I've become a big fan of yours recently. I'm a medical student and basically all my study breaks have been watching your LionWhispererTv videos on YouTube. Have you ever had a lion or hyena that, like a person, you simply didn't like and didn't feel comfortable interacting with?

KevinLionWhisperer11 karma

Good question: Yes. Like humans some lions tolerate you but never bond completely. You can still interact with them but its just not the same. I must just say that generally its hasn't been the norm and most if treated well, are good.

iambluebeard9 karma

Would you be surprised if you got mauled by one of your lions?

KevinLionWhisperer32 karma



What is the most important step to secure the survival of wild lions?

Also, what can we do to help?

KevinLionWhisperer15 karma

Most important step is to secure habitat and mitigate human/lion conflict. We need to protect wilderness areas at all costs. We need to educate people especially those that live on the periphery of wilderness areas. We need better farming techniques and we need to stop hunting in areas where lions are overhunted such as East Africa. Can help by supporting credible lion conservation organisations or by helping spread awareness to the plight. most people don't know lions are under threat

theycallmeO9 karma

you are a beautiful person, i get all emotional every time i watch one of your videos.

what was it that made you decide that live or die, this was what you were going to do?

thank you for what you do.

KevinLionWhisperer10 karma

Thanks! I'm not too sure. I suppose it just drew me in and the years flew by! Not something easily put into words

Im_only_kevin8 karma

Have you or anyone you've worked along side ever been attacked and severely injured? If so, story time?

KevinLionWhisperer18 karma

Attacked yes, severely injured, No. I was attacked years ago but misread the situation. No substitute for experience

jadekinsz7 karma

Hi Kevin ( I have the same name as you assistant that helps with george and yame!!) question about george and yame

I know there are Cubs all around the world who are in danger and you don't have the room for all of them. What convinced you to take them in?

KevinLionWhisperer12 karma

Hi Jade, I was asked by someone I know really well and we collectively decided that they could help raise awareness to the plight of captive lions and 'canned' hunting. Its not a decision I made easily but I'm glad I did as they have done so much in creating awareness to the cub petting industry throughout the world

liamc30007 karma

If you were mauled to death by a lion, Would you rather they blamed you or the lion?

KevinLionWhisperer31 karma

Always me. It can never be the lions fault

lizamoss7 karma

Right now, from what I understand, South Africa's laws towards canned hunting are fairly wishy-washy. Is the country any closer to taking a firm stand on the issue of canned hunting and outlawing the practice?

On a related note, some places in the world have outlawed the general public interaction with large predators like big cats at places like parks and circuses. Do you know if there's any considerations being made in South Africa to outlaw cub petting attractions?

KevinLionWhisperer9 karma

Yes indeed wishy washy! No they are not as our government actually quietly endorses it. Probably cause they feel it creates jobs and money which is more important to them. Thats why we need to educate the world as to why they shouldn't play/pet cubs at tourist facilities. If there was a boycott these plays wouldn't breed and it would fizzle out. We are behind the world in banning public big cat interactions. Its a long battle ahead but one I'm passionate about!

frumpyfish826 karma

I heard a rumor that you may be putting out another book. Any truth to this?

KevinLionWhisperer11 karma

I like rumours. Answer is yes. Working on getting it going but lots to tell. Will be very different to last

tragic-waste-of-skin6 karma

Hi Kevin.

How on Earth are you able to tame those man-eating beasts?

Those videos I've seen are just so awesome. To see you in the same room with a lioness and her cubs, and for her to allow you to touch her cubs is mindblowing.

How do you do it?

KevinLionWhisperer20 karma

Tame? never. They're still inherently wild with instincts. Secret is kindness, love, passion, perseverance and commitment.

watda806 karma

Hi Kevin, big fan. I've watched all your videos. I'm still sad about Mafumo, and Thor, but at least Thor went out in lightning like a god.

How often do you see each of the animals? Do you do rounds and say hello to all of them every day, or are there some special ones who you pay extra attention to? Do you participate in the feeding every day or let the other workers handle it? Basically, what sorts of things do you do day-to-day to maintain the bond you have with the animals?

Thanks for all the hours of amazing footage! I'm staying tuned.

KevinLionWhisperer12 karma

Yes always sad when you lose a loved one. Still miss them. Currently my commitments are keeping me away from my fluffy friends. Usually around 3-4 times per week these days. In the early days when I was learning the ropes, every day. I try and see which animals are needing more attention and portion my time accordingly. No I'm not involved in feeding these days. Bonding is about spending quality time and not quantity.

feathersandlace75 karma

Hello, Kevin! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions. I was just wondering, are there any other animal rights causes you are passionate about or support?

KevinLionWhisperer8 karma

I have my hands really full just campaigning for lions so haven't looked into any other causes. We have to make people aware of 'canned' lion hunting and to bring an end to it

teresitanj5 karma

Since the females are on birth control how does that affect the males? Do they still try to mate with the females? If they don't try because the whole estrus thing doesn't happen does it affect their temperment in any way making them more prone to aggression with other males for example.

KevinLionWhisperer8 karma

Males do mate when they have a 'false' estrus. However it goes on for longer and males do get really aggressive. Its not ideal but does stop breeding in its tracks and in order to stop cub petting we need to lead by example

lizamoss5 karma

First thing, I really respect and support the work you do and the awareness you create about cub petting, canned hunting, and lion conservation.

With that in mind, what is your knowledge and opinion of the exotic pet trade problem so rampant in North America, especially the United States? Lions and other big cats, along with animals like primates and bears are regularly bred and sold as house pets to a vast majority of people who have neither the knowledge, accommodations, or money to properly care for these animals.

Some individuals see your interaction with the predators on your sanctuary as inadvertently fuelling the demand in North America for these kinds of exotic pets. That viewers of your videos leave wanting to do the same thing as you do, in turn mistaking lions for big cuddly house cats rather than wild animals that they can raise from infancy and interact with with no problems.

In short, what is your opinion on this and does it influence you in any way when presenting yourself and your work to the public?

KevinLionWhisperer9 karma

Firstly thanks! Yes I'm aware of the exotic animal trade and find it difficult to comprehend that it is still legal in a first world country like the USA. With regards to people seeing the interactions it is a double edged sword at times, but i think the good has by far outweighed the bad. The awareness I've been able to create is far greater than Id ever been able to achieve it was hands off and besides that the interactions were for the animals benefit. My whole way has changed from when I first started and hopefully people will have picked up on that. I don't encourage breeding nor self indulgent interactions and always caution about dangers and life commitments. One does need to be careful and we do now have a team who helps with this.

MrPuffyFox5 karma

Hey Kevin.

How are the Leopards doing?

KevinLionWhisperer8 karma

Good. Coal and Nikita are getting on in age but still healthy. Duke and Kahn are a pleasure and still behaving.

gualiberts5 karma

Hi Kevin! First of, THANK YOU for the great work you are doing!!! What do you think of foundations that rescue big cats where different cub species are put together to interact with each other? The foundations say they will eventually be separated when they reach sexual maturity to avoid inter breeding. Is this advisable? Thanks!

KevinLionWhisperer7 karma

If they are true rescue facilities sometimes they don't have an option. Most cats are sociable at a young age and therefore its not a bad thing. You'll see the signs when they get older. Thanks for the kind words

SimPilotLion4 karma

Hey Kevin! So excited you decided to do an AmA. I've been following your work for a while. As you probably know, you inspire many people by how you interact with such beautiful predators. I'm sure there are many out there who want to do the exact same thing you're doing. What is your response to those who want to try and interact with these animals on the same level as you do? Is it something that, under some circumstances, you encourage?

Keep up the amazing work!

KevinLionWhisperer7 karma

Its not something I encourage due to the life long commitment and inherent dangers. I've fallen into the trap and can't get out. My commitment is to the animals in my care and to campaign and create awareness for those who aren't. Two causes, Captive lions and canned hunting and wild lions and population demise

Throwawaymyheart014 karma

Hi Kevin! Do you have a favorite lion? Also have you seen Christian the Lion? do you feel it's true that a lion would remember you after being separated for a long time? Or was it just a friendly lion who liked people?

KevinLionWhisperer9 karma

I have many favourites just like a parent and his kids! Yes seen it. Yes they do have good memories. Watch Killer IQ on Smithsonian channel. It'll enlighten you! Maybe Christian was a little more friendly and he was still at a very sociable age

samueldavidson3 karma

What's an obscure fact about lions and hyenas that blows you away?

KevinLionWhisperer13 karma

I love the fact the lions are the only truly social cat who are sexually dimorphic and have tufted tails. I love the fact that female hyenas have pseudopenises and dominate the clans. How cool and weird is that!

LesaneCrooks3 karma

Hello, Kevin

What you do....simply amazing.

My question: have you ever spoken with or plan to visit BlackJaguarWhiteTiger foundation in Mexico?

KevinLionWhisperer8 karma

Thanks! Only recently found out about his work and am now following him. If in Mexico would definitely look him up

CookiesandCupcakes3 karma

When did you realize that you had such a gift with these animals and what led you to decide to makes this your life's work?

KevinLionWhisperer8 karma

You can always see when a child is liked by animals. I guess I was one of those kids that always preferred being around animals. When I met Tau and Napoleon something sparked in me. It was a calling of some sort.

_iPood_3 karma

Hey Kevin, thanks for doing this.

In one of the GoPro videos you say that Meg is more outgoing and that Amy is more dependent on Meg. Can you elaborate a bit more? What does that mean in terms of their behavior?

KevinLionWhisperer6 karma

Meg is more bold and brazen. Amy more reserved and cautious however lately Amy has really come out of her shell. Maybe its our new location

wesker123 karma

My man, I've been dying to talk to you for a long time! My question is this, is it easier to have a meaningful relationship with animals that have an inherent social structure like lions and hyenas versus other big cats that are more solitary like leopards or tigers? Have you ever worked with tigers? Who is your favorite lion!

KevinLionWhisperer6 karma

Yes it is in my opinion. I have worked with tigers but not enough to make an informed opinion. Hmm favourite lion? All of them!

brockbot3 karma

Since hyenas are wild dogs, are they actually canines? Are they at all similar to domesticated dogs, or are they completely different?

KevinLionWhisperer14 karma

Hyenas are not wild dogs. Not at all. They are actually more closely related to the cat family. Their closest living relative is a mongoose. They do however have some dog like attributes

unsettledhyena2 karma

Hi! I was wondering if you have any advice on how to get involved with conservation? And, also, how did you first get involved with working with animals? (Bonus question, what is the silliest thing you've had a hyena do?)

KevinLionWhisperer5 karma

Always good to do a degree or diploma or similar in conservation or wildlife management. It helps when you apply for a job. I've worked with animals since I was 5. Got involved with lions at 23. Silliest thing is getting a hyena to do head over heals

ColonelMatrix1 karma

Have you ever tried the Crocodile Dundee technique?


He also uses it on Dobermans.

KevinLionWhisperer4 karma

Often, doesn't work! :-)

BrutallyHonestDude0 karma

How are you not crippled or dead, yet? Don't these animals have natural instincts to rip you apart for food?

I don't mean to offend you, I'm just curious how a man of flesh and bone can be in physical contact with man-eating animals on a daily basis and walk away unscathed. It's just mindblowing what you do.

KevinLionWhisperer10 karma

Um, thanks....... I guess. Well thats just what I'm trying to show. These are not mindless man eaters but rather a well designed predator simply fighting for survival. Biggest threat being MAN. They are social animals and therefore its no surprise they can form intimate bonds given time and patience. They do indeed have natural instincts however don't see me as food but rather a group member