The clip, which made headlines this week, show him punching one of his lions. But there is more to it…
While not quite as controversial as the “Tiger King”, the “Lion King” found himself at the center of scrutiny this week when a video showing him punching one of his lions resurfaced.
Dean Schneider, a former Swiss financier who moved to South Africa to open an animal sanctuary, came under fire over the clip, which was shot in September of last year but was republished by an animal rights group last week.
In it, Schneider can be seen lying on the ground with his lions — as he frequently does — when one of the cats scratches his head with her claw.
Wincing in pain, he appears to lash out with his fist, before the clip suddenly cuts.
Carly Gamrasni Åhlén, founder of Gabo Wildlife Foundation, shared the “exclusive footage” with UK website Epistle News, before a number of publications picked it up.
But the “exclusive footage” was readily available on Schneider’s own Instagram, where it has remained for 34 weeks, along with his explanation as to what was happening in the clip.
In his video, Schneider tells his 6.9million followers what had occurred, admitting that some people thought he was being a little bit too rough with Nyla when he posted the original video the day before.
“As you guys know, I am part of the lion pride,” he says, while frolicking with Nyla herself. “in this case, I have to communicate like lions.”
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“Now how do lions communicate with one another? The play fight, they have ranking fights… this is why their face is full of scars.”
“Now I can’t give them any scars; I don’t have claws, I don’t have sharp teeth. So if they overdo it with me, then I have to show it to them in another way.”
He explained that after Nyla scratched him — showing the scar he picked up on his face, one of many he has — he has to hit her on the paw with his fist to let her know.
“It doesn’t hurt her at all… look how roughly they treat one another,” he said. “If it comes to food, ranking; If just one lies on top of the other they go crazy sometimes. That’s why they are full of scars.”
“Being part of a lion pride brings with it that you have to communicate in their same language. If they treat me like this,” he said pointing to his scar, “I have to treat them back the exact same way. This is just normal.”
Schneider says he never uses ropes, sticks, chains or electricity to control his lions as some do, only his own body — and without any personal protection.
He added that he was not offended by the people accusing him of abuse, accepting they were just concerned for the lions’ welfare.
“I f–ked it up by not putting it out there properly,” he said, accepting he hadn’t explained the clip after he posted it.
Indeed he even reposted a video from December 2018 explaining the exact same thing, showing just how rough even the adolescents are when playing with him, and how he has to be rough back “to set the limits.”
A spokesman for Schneider told TooFab that contrary to misleading reports, the South African SPCA is not and never has investigated him or his Hakuna Mipaka farm, adding the association has an open invite to visit it.
“Dean, and the entire team, are very dedicated to providing the best of care for all animals residing at Hakuna Mipaka. Dean’s mission is to educate people and create an understanding of wildlife in hopes to awaken people’s interest to protect it,” he said.
“He is in close contact with wild animals and therefore needs to communicate his boundaries. Dean has a deep love for his animals and wildlife in general, and would never use unnecessary force of any kind.”
As for the Tiger King, the Lion King has seen the Netflix doc, but isn’t so sure about the comparisons…
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