Kevin Richardson’s story
Kevin began as a wildlife park worker in Johannesburg South Africa, where he soon developed a particular interest in big cats, especially lions.
Over time his relationship with lions and hyenas became something extra special. Now years later, he has taken many of the cats he looked after to his own sanctuary near Johannesburg where they live out their days in peace and dignity.
Working As A Volunteer With Kevin Richardson
Looking after lions is not like being a volunteer with small animals. Just the feeding alone is very different. There is meat. LOTS of it! Big pieces too, up to 20kg to try to carry and place in feeding cages or up trees for ‘enrichment’. And meat means blood, smell, flies… get the scene?
In fact a dead horse on the back of a ute that needs to be carved up is a reality (or your nightmare!)…If you are a vegetarian, this is NOT the job for you!
So it was a little disconcerting when we first met Kevin seeing he had a bright pink esky holding his small meat treats to help whilst filming with the cats. Now anyone who has travelled in Africa knows the ‘in’ colours are beige, khaki or camo. Not pink, and I’m talking BRIGHT pink. I just had to question him about it but he confessed to being colour blind.. I reckon he’s just a man very comfortable in his own shoes, and hell he did look great next to pink!
Kevin And Mandy Work As A Team
Kevin and his wife Mandy were a great couple. He was affable, a larrikin and someone full of life and energy, the closest Africa has to our own Steve Irwin. Mandy was just simply gorgeous. She looked after the volunteers and was friendly, approachable, nurturing and caring. They made it a regular occurrence to socialise with us all on Friday evenings around a typical African braai.
Both Kevin and Mandy have both found themselves in this lifestyle because of his extraordinary relationship with cats. And that’s not just lions.
He also has black leopards and hyenas, including two rare striped hyenas. And he happily confessed that hyenas have put him in hospital much more than lion encounters. However we were allowed one day to actually sit inside their particular enclosure and observe them at close quarters. What a fabulous experience.
Our time volunteering in South Africa has given us so many amazing memories that we would recommend it to anyone. So go on, broaden your outlook on life. Try it, you will LOVE it!
[Photos and videos by Tony Isaacson (DiveCareDare-‘Surface Interval’ video) and Irene Isaacson]