September 30, 2011

The Lion Whisperer: Fantastic Video of a Life's Passion

This morning, I looked at a brief video emailed to me by an animal-crazy friend. I was amazed, and had to view it a second time. It’s about South African animal behaviorist Kevin Richardson, who lives with lions and hyenas and has found a way to completely gain their trust. Here's the video:

I thought, “Now THERE is someone following a special passion!”... however crazy and dangerous (and wonderful) it seemed to me.

The video reminded me of another clip I posted on this blog a few months back – showing Betty White accepting an award with her wonderful self-deprecating humor. In her speech to the assembled glittering crowd, she talked about her good fortune having not one, but TWO passions: show business and animals.

Betty doesn’t take the enormous risks with animals that make Kevin’s story so compelling. Here’s a brief intro from the website “Kevin Richardson; Lion Whisperer”:

Kevin has always shown an interest in all types of creatures large and small and from an early age at just 3, was breeding crickets under his bed and keeping a pet toad called “Paddajie”. He grew from a young boy who cared for so many animals that he was called “The Bird Man of Orange Grove” in his home town to an adolescent who ran wild and, finally, to a man who is able to cross the divide between humans and predators. As a self-taught animal behaviorist, Richardson has broken every safety rule known to humans when working with these wild animals. Flouting common misconceptions that breaking an animal’s spirit with sticks and chains is the best way to subdue them, he uses love, understanding and trust to develop personal bonds with them. His unique method of getting to know their individual personalities, what makes each of them angry, happy, upset, or irritated-just like a mother understands a child-has caused them to accept him like one of their own into their fold.
We’ve talked a lot on this blog about longevity, and all the factors that contribute to it, like exercise, diet, social engagement, and the luck of the DNA. I don't think we talk enough about the importance of pursuing a passion in life, the way Kevin is doing, so obviously in this video clip. Assuming his lion and hyena friends never change their loving, accepting ways with him, Kevin should live to be 100!

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