He’s called the “Lion Whisperer” because he shares an extraordinary bond with Africa’s most fearsome predators. Now Kevin Richardson faces his biggest challenge yet – a battle to transport 27 lions, 4 black leopards and 14 hyenas to a new home, a sanctuary on the edge of the Dinokeng Game Reserve in South Africa. Smithsonian Channel follows Richardson and the move in a new special airing in two-parts, PREDATOR ROAD TRIP: BACKSEAT LIONS, premiering Wednesday, February 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, and PREDATOR ROAD TRIP: HYENA BREAKOUT on Wednesday, March 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
A self-taught animal behaviorist, Kevin Richardson has broken every conventional safety rule known to man when working with wild animals. Instead of coercion or punishment, he uses love, understanding and trust to develop personal bonds with them. His unique method of getting to know their individual personalities – what makes them angry, happy, upset, or irritated – just like a mother understands a child, has caused them to accept him like one of their own.
Kevin’s unique relationships with these large predators have captivated the imagination of many people throughout the world. He has presented and produced several documentaries that detail his relationships with the animals and highlight the plight of lions both in captivity and in the wild. Kevin has also written a book appropriately named “Part of the Pride,” which has recently been updated to reflect his current stance on the issues lions face in captivity and the wild. He is now affectionately known by his fans worldwide as “The Lion Whisperer,” and has been featured prominently on 60 Minutes, CNN, ABC News and NBC News.
PREDATOR ROAD TRIP: BACKSEAT LIONS
Premieres Wednesday, February 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
The animals’ new home will be a sanctuary on the edge of Dinokeng. Kevin has a huge task ahead of him; planning and designing the new enclosures and securing permits to move the lions. After making a promise to look after his animals to the end of their days, Kevin wants to make sure they have the best life they possibly can. To prevent stereotypical behavior developing from frustration and boredom, the animals are regularly rotated into new enclosures encouraging them to explore and establish new territories as they would in the wild. For the move itself most of the animals will need to be loaded into specially adapted transport vans. Being able to understand the individual characteristics of his animals is key to helping Kevin move them safely.
PREDATOR ROAD TRIP: HYENA BREAKOUT
Premieres Wednesday, March 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
The hyenas’ complicated social dynamics take center stage as two youngsters, Luke and Nyeba, are introduced to a dominant male. Tempers flare, but will they settle and form a new clan? As Kevin fights for permission to move the animals, his relationship with the lions comes under strain. He visits three of them, Livy, Ginny and Vayetzi, but they are in a feisty mood and are really pushing the boundaries with him. Finally, though, after a stressful eight months, the permits are approved and the animals are ready for their move to Dinokeng. But how will the move go and will the animals settle in?