60 Minutes investigative journalist Clarissa Ward goes to South Africa to interview Kevin Richardson, aka The Lion Whisperer. Richardson doesn’t use sticks or whips to communicate with the King of the Jungle. He breaks all the rules – he looks them in eyes, he lies down on ground with them, and he turns his back on them. Richardson says the biggest misconception about them is that lions are “mindless, man-eating killers.” He clarifies, “Their just big scared animals, designed to kill but they’d rather run away than confront.”
Clarissa Ward’s investigation also delves into the multi-million dollar tourism business of “canned hunts.” There are lion parks where tourists can visit with and pet lion cubs. But the dubious part of the big business is what happens to the cubs once they’ve become too old for the park. (At a certain age, the lions become too dangerous for social interaction with the public.) Ward reveals many of the older lions are not sent to park reserves (they are overcrowded) but are used for “canned hunts” – where lions are placed in fixed enclosures. Tourists pay up to $100,000 to shoot a white, male lion. Ward’s fascinating report airs on 60 Minutes, Sunday, November 30 at 7:30pm on CBS.