You'll forget about bear hugs after you see these lion hugs. Kevin Richardson, 39, is an animal behaviorist and "lion whisperer." He used a GoPro camera to record himself hugging and tumbling the majestic creatures, along with hyenas. The video shows extraordinary, close-up footage as Richardson gets personal with the beautiful beasts. He filmed the footage at his wildlife sanctuary near Pretoria, South Africa. Richardson is so close with the animals that he can even cuddle with them; he said they love it when he scratches their chins. It's amazing to watch the footage of the lions pouncing and hugging Richardson in slow-mo.
Richardson he was fascinated with lions from a young age and that people describe him as the "lion whisperer" of the ability he has to build relationships with lions "without having to submit through fear."
Richardson's purpose in making the video, however, was to highlight the dangers lions and hyenas face. "What I have been able to do with my unique relationship is capture people's attention," he said. "When people think about Africa they think it is teeming with game ... but talk about any species and you have the same dilemma: habitat loss. 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."
Richardson's website states: "The Kevin Richardson Wildlife Sanctuary’s mission is to provide a self-sustaining African carnivore sanctuary for the purposes of wild species preservation through education, awareness and funding, especially pertaining to the rapid decline of large carnivores in Africa due to habitat loss, human-predator conflict, unscrupulous hunting, disease and their illegal trade."