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    Lioness Swims With Her Trainer 10/16

    The Lion Whisperer

    Big cats don’t scare Kevin Richardson. To him, frolicking with lions, cheetahs and hyenas is all in a day’s work.

  • Lioness Swims With Her Trainer 7/16

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    A special gift -

    Kevin Richardson, a zoologist and animal behaviorist, is known as the "Lion Whisperer." He has the ability to make powerful predators purr like docile kittens. Richardson frolics with Meg the lion in the Crocodile River just south of the Magaliesburg mountains, near Johannesburg. "That's one of the reasons I believe my animals are so relaxed," said Richardson, 34. "Those who like it go for swims, others go for walks, others just prefer to go and chill."

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    From 'grr' to 'purr' -

    Richardson's unusual methods for taming large, dangerous animals -- using love, understanding and trust -- has helped him develop an extraordinary comfort and closeness with them. "People are always amazed that she doesn't rip me to pieces with her claws," Richardson said.

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    Language of love -

    "The Lion Whisperer" communicates with his kitties through his own language of grunts and groans. He says he uses his instinct, and takes into account each animal's personality when interacting with them.

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    Cuddle buddies -

    Meg the lion is a hefty 408-pound boisterous lioness who loves to swim and play. Meg, 7, lives in "The Kingdom of the White Lion," a 1,600 acre wildlife conservation area near Johannesburg, South Africa, where Richardson is based.

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    Lifelong passion -

    Animals have been Richardson's passion since he was a young child, though they haven't been part of his job for very long. He used to work with humans as a physiotherapist. After having the opportunity to work with two lion cubs, Richardson fell in love and made animals his career. The studly zoologist has been featured in several documentaries and recently finished working on a new film about white lions.

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    Lion love -

    "You get in and start swimming and the next thing you know there's a full grown lioness beside you doing doggy ... ummm I mean ... lion paddle towards you," Richardson said.

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  • Exclusive...Kevin Richardson is the 'Lion Whisperer'  16/22

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    Tender kisses -

    Even an adult male lion is relaxed around Richardson, allowing for a sweet smooch.

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    Play fighting -

    The animals enjoy play fighting with Richardson. He learned early on how to read a lion's demeanor -- when to keep playing and when to stop. A four-year-old male lion once pinned him down and began biting him, eventually easing up because of Richardson's calm attitude.

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  • Exclusive...Kevin Richardson is the 'Lion Whisperer'  20/22

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    Hyena huddle -

    Richardson can tame more than just lions. He says he can cuddle up with all kinds of wild animals -- including cheetahs, leopards and hyenas -- without feeling threatened.

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    Friends for life -

    Adult brother lions Tau and Napolean have known Richardson since they were 6-month-old cubs. Richardson says he can build a close relationship with lions that are less than a year old, but he is most comfortable with animals he has known since their birth.

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  • Exclusive...Kevin Richardson is the 'Lion Whisperer'  2/22

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    Making a difference -

    Richardson hopes that his work with the lions will bring attention to lion conservation, as the animals' numbers in the wild have dwindled from 350,000 to 25,000 to 30,000 in just 15 years.

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