Lions are incredibly powerful, so much that it seems impossible to tame them. As tricky as it might seem, one woman has figured out how to build a bond with the wild beasts. She has established herself as the leader of their pack, and her relationship with them is unbelievable.
Or Lazmi is part of a privately owned wildlife park in South Africa. She has known a group of four lions since they were cubs, so she has become their mother figure in many ways. Or has raised the lions for the past 17 months, and she has become the leader of the pack.
The lions respect her completely. Not only is Or able to enter the enclosed area where the lions are kept, she can walk right up to the group and show them love. The lions let her kiss them and snuggle them. They look like big house cats when they are with her.
The facility is so confident in the peacefulness of the lions that they allow visitors inside the lion area. Every guest must be accompanied by Or, but as long as she is around they remain calm and relaxed.
When asked what would happen if the woman weren’t around, Or replied, “That would be a totally different story. That’s why it is important to us to remember they are wild animals, so their instincts can stay there.”
Or explained that the main way to earn the respect of the lions is to show them respect. “We respect them as wild animals to start off with. I think that’s one of the key points. We don’t train them – we don’t do anything like that. So basically we need to earn their trust and respect.”
The woman would walk the lions when they were just cubs, but now they are big enough to play on their own. They love climbing to high landings, like the one Or is laying in during the video. It is clear from their body language that the lions are happy where they are.
These lions have been in captivity since birth, and they respond to Or astonishingly well. Some people are bewildered that a human can have such a close relationship with wild animals, but to her the dynamic is intuitive. “They’ve known me as a constant dominant figure in their lives since they were babies,” Or shares, “and that’s why I’m able to go so up close to them now.”
Even though she has developed such a strong bond with the lions, Or does not plan on keeping them in her life forever. She has her sights set on a much bigger goal: releasing them back into the wild.
She hopes that once the lions are fully grown, she and her team will be able to bring them back to the wild. If they thrive in their new circumstance, it may open the door for many more lions who are held in captivity to return to their homes.
Or explained that she was hoping to disprove the notion that animals who have had contact with humans cannot be released into the wild. “That’s what we’re hoping to prove wrong, because you have, right now in South Africa, more lions in captivity than in the wild. So if we can take the animals from this situation and prove that you can turn them wild again, then we can be saving quite a few of them.”
Or’s cause is certainly a noble one. It is definitely better to survive thanks to the help of humans than to die in the wilderness, but nothing beats the feeling of being free. These great beasts naturally long to be back in their original habitats once they have recovered from their injuries.
This project is certainly controversial, both because it involves letting humans visit with lions in person and because it involves releasing animals that would ordinarily be kept contained for a lifetime. What do you think about the video below? Let us know in the comments.
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Source: Animal Planet