A charging african lion is an alarming sight for most people – but for zoologist Kevin Richardson it’s just the start of another day on a reserve in South Africa. Richardson wrestles with fully-grown lions like other people play with house cats, as you can see in the video above. As a testament to his ability to become part of the pride, Richardson has even earned the title of “lion whisperer” – something very few others could ever hope to achieve.

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Before you decide to try and befriend a pride of lions, just know that Richardson has been working with this particular group of felines for over a decade. In that time he has earned their trust and revealed a soft side that is generally assumed to be absent in wild animals. Despite its apparent dangers, the zoologist has no fear; “I know they could kill me in a second, but that doesn’t bother me. If I came back to life, I would do it all again,” he says.

There are those who think his intrusion into the cat’s lives is unwise, especially as it upsets the balance of nature, but there are also those that appreciate the publicity it has created for the preservation of lions across the world. Richardson has portrayed lions in a way that could encourage people to do something about their diminishing numbers. If you want proof, just watch the video of him saying hello to his feline friends.

Via TreeHugger