The Great Lion Hug
Don’t try this at home – or on your next trip to Africa. But zoologist Kevin Richardson has a new video promoting his work with lions.
(Excuse the embedded ads.)
Is he ever worried that something untoward might happen to him?
“I know they could kill me in a second, but that doesn’t bother me,” he told Sky News. “If I came back to life, I would do it all again.”
That’s because Richardson’s purpose, as he describes it, is to remind people that lions are every bit as endangered as elephants and rhinos and all the other iconic animals of Africa. According to Derek and Beverly Joubert, producers of National Geographic’s The Last Lions, in the last 50 years lions have dropped in number from 450,000 to around 20,000.
It’s all but certain, in fact, that the lions will all be gone in the next few years. “Unless we start talking about this, these lions will be extinct within the next 10 or 15 years,” Derek Joubert told NPR more than two years ago. Two years later, no one’s really talking about it.
Meanwhile, Richardson is out there hugging those last lions.
“We don’t want a situation whereby we must tell our children’s children about lions as if they were dodo birds,” he said in a 2010 interview.
The again, once the lions and the elephants and thousands of other species are all gone, our children’s children may be facing a rather uncertain future themselves.