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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Part of the Pride: My Life Among the Big Cats of Africa by Kevin Richardson with Tony Park

About a year ago, film started to circulate on YouTube® of a remarkable man named Kevin Richardson, an animal custodian in a South African animal park. The film showed Richardson in his day-to-day work, looking some of the world's most dangerous animals directly in the eye, crouching down at their level, playing with them and, sometimes, even kissing them on the nose--all without ever being attacked or injured. The films’ popularity skyrocketed and Richardson became an international sensation. In “Part of the Pride”, Kevin Richardson tells the story of his life and work, how he grew from a young boy who cared for so many animals that he was called “The Bird Man of Orange Grove” to an adolescent who ran wild and, finally, to a man who is able to cross the divide between humans and predators. As a self-taught animal behaviorist, Richardson has broken every safety rule known to humans when working with these wild animals. Flouting common misconceptions that breaking an animal’s spirit with sticks and chains is the best way to subdue them, he uses love, understanding and trust to develop personal bonds with them. His unique method of getting to know their individual personalities, what makes each of them angry, happy, upset, or irritated—just like a mother understands a child—has caused them to accept him like one of their own into their fold. Like anyone else who truly loves animals, Richardson allows their own stories to share center stage as he tells readers about Napoleon and Tau, the two male lions he calls his “brothers”; the amazing Meg, a lioness Richardson taught to swim; the fierce Tsavo who savagely attacked him; and the heartbreaking little hyena called Homer who didn’t live to see his first birthday. Richardson also chronicles his work on the forthcoming feature film “The White Lion” and has a lot to say about the state of lion farming and hunting in South Africa today. In “Part of the Pride”, Richardson, with novelist Tony Park, delves into the mind of the big cats and their world to show readers a different way of understanding the dangerous big cats of Africa.
Summary taken from
Length: 256 pages
Source: Toronto Public Library
Publication Date: September 1st 2009

In this book I headed off to my favourite country South Africa for my Around the World in 52 Books Challenge and what an adventure it was! Lions, hyenas and jaguars oh my!

A few years ago I watched a short documentary called Dangerous Companions about Kevin Richardson and his friends (lions, hyenas, giraffes etc.) I like many other people was amazed by the connection he had with them and every time I see a lion special on I think of him. So it was much to my surprise that while looking for another book in the library database that I found that he had a book! Of course I had to put it on hold immediately and within 2 days I finished it.

I love the way that the book was written. It wasn't written in away that was too "uppity". It was written in a very casual manner and I really think that worked to the books advantage because lets be honest we want to read about this man and his bond with the animals he undoubtedly loves a great deal.

I enjoyed learning about his early life which he says was far from perfect and freely admits that he was a troublemaker in his youth. Which to me made it even more appealing because who wants to read about someones perfect life? Not me. I think that the reason he's so good with animals is because he feels more of a connection to them than the people in his life. I understand that bond but on a smaller scale...with my house cats, rodents, birds and our dog. I know it's not incredible but trust is trust.

I loved reading about his animals, and learning their stories, learning their little quirks, and seeing just how unique each of them is. But what I loved most was learning how he had to work for them to accept him. Many people think that he has a special gift but I believe that maybe he knows how to read these beautiful and powerful animals better than the rest of us because he pays a little more attention to the rest of us. I mean there is something about him that allows him to be "part of the pride" or else the lionesses would not let him near their newborn cubs, allow him to sleep with them play with them. These animals are beautiful souls with feelings and this book proves that they are capable of having a remarkable bond with this man built on mutual trust and respect.

His stories are incredible and breath taking when you think about the animals that he's talking about. Now I won't spoil any of the book for you by talking about the different animals, I think it would be much better if you read it yourselves.

I highly recommend any and all animal lovers to read this book it's amazing and inspiring!

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

1 comment:

  1. Oh, it looks like a great book. Thank you Kimberly for finding these gems. I hope to read it sometime. Great review. :)


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