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Stunning pics: Photographer gets up close and personal with lions

Big cats at this safari live the easy life.


November 5, 2015 | Latest Photo Prev Next
lionlionPhoto: LeonP / Shutterstock
November 5, 2015 | Latest Photo

An adult male lion licks his lips as he marches through the straw-colored grass in the Ramat Gan Safari, a 250-acre safari and zoo in Israel. With dark orange eyes and teeth intimidating enough to give prey a heart attack, it's no wonder lions like him are so fascinating from a comfortable difference.

But perhaps we judge too quickly; maybe he's not thinking about hunting down a gazelle. Maybe he's just remembering his grandmother's zebra cakes. Maybe his lips are chapped.

lion ramat ganAnimals at the safari are trained to voluntarily participate in their own care. (Photo: LeonP/Shutterstock)

Leon, the photographer who took this photo, got to the safari early in the morning and waited for the zookeeper to feed the lions, knowing that the lions would only be calm enough for photos once they weren't hungry. After breakfast, the animals rested under the shade of nearby trees.

"All the time I watched them and waited for this exact condition to take the photo," Leon said.

At Ramat Gan, over a thousand species of animals, including white rhinos, porcupines, hippos, lions, African and Asian elephants, gorillas and orangutans live in conditions designed to parallel natural habitats.

"It’s not always easier for animals to be out in the wild. Here, all their needs are cared for and they’re treated with respect," said Sagit Horowitz, Ramat Gan Safari spokesperson.

Ramat Gan Safari lionsFemale lions chase each other in the grass. (Photo: LeonP/Shutterstock)

The safari feels strongly about protecting its animals. This summer, veterinarians discovered cancer in Samuni, one of the zoo's lions. The zoo operated on Samuni, and they successfully removed the tumor.

“There was no doubt that we’d take care of Samuni even though it is extremely difficult to anesthetize a lion," explained Horowitz. "We knew that we would do everything to save his life.”

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Related Topics: Animals