Tourists in Ukraine were given the fright of their lives after an over-friendly lion climbed into their safari truck.
The lion can be seen just chilling in the sun before the truck pulls up. Amazingly, the driver puts his hand out, which the big cat takes as a sign to climb into the front seat and get very close – and personal – with those on board.
The footage was captured at the Taigan Safari Park, Crimea, where just weeks before, a woman had been injured at the same attraction.
The two-year-old lion seemed incredibly friendly for such an animal, even licking tourists’ faces and being playful with the driver.
Check it out:
It’s a brave man who drives an open-sided buggy full of tourists in to a lion enclosure. Park owner and self-professed ‘lion whisperer’, Oleg Zubkov, is that very man, it seems.
Forcing Oleg out of the drivers seat, however, it looked like the big cat was in charge, putting his paws on the steering while, nuzzling up to the tourists and, remarkably, remaining quite friendly throughout the whole incident.
The tourists also seemed remarkably relaxed as the lion, called Filya, climbed in, displaying the strength and size these predators are known for.
Taigan Safari Park is well-known for offering tourists a unique excursion with lion handler Oleg, including – as the video shows – the opportunity to get very close to the lions.
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Of course, this is an incredibly rare occurrence, as these wild creatures are not usually so friendly.
Tourists in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park found out the hard way how petting a wild animal is not something to be underestimated.
As their truck stops in the park, with a huge lion just outside, the brave/stupid tourist puts their hand out the window to try and touch the lion.
The lion, of course, knew exactly what was going on, and was quick to remind the tourist that offering your arm to a lion is not a good idea.
You can watch it here:
A spokesperson on behalf of Wildlife Sightings, who were running the safari, said the tourist was ‘incredibly stupid and ignorant’.
While lions may seek shade under vehicles, they state:
… this doesn’t mean that they trust humans.
To try to touch [a lion] is incredibly stupid and ignorant of the tourist that filmed the sighting.
Speaking to The Sun, a South African safari ranger, Naas Smith, explained:
It could also just have easily crashed its way through the open window and torn into those inside. They were lucky to get away with it.
They are wild animals who concluded that park rangers would probably have had to euthanise the lion if it had killed or injured the tourist.
I know lions are part of the cat family but these are definitely not the kind you want to be stroking, you’re not Dr Doolittle.
Keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, ladies and gentlemen. Unless, of course, the lion climbs on board.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.