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Feeding Lions – Up Close And Personal | Don't Ever Look Back

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Feeding Lions – Up Close And Personal

Feeding Lions – Up Close And Personal

In all honesty, previous animal encounters we’ve had have been fairly tame. Sure they’ve been fantastic fun but they haven’t been truly adventurous.

We’ve hand-fed giraffes in Seattle, interacted with beluga whales in San Antonio and rode Icelandic Horses in Iceland. The most extreme thing we’ve done is gone swimming with reef sharks in Hawaii but even that didn’t really get our hearts pumping all that much.

But how about coming face-to-face with the king of beasts, the lion, during feeding time? The thought of this sent shivers down our spines but excited us at the same time.

Lion Encounter Meeting Place - Orana Wildlife Park

New Zealand’s largest wildlife sanctuary and conservation project, the Orana Wildlife Park in Christchurch, offers a daily Lion Encounter for 20 visitors. Orana takes the $30 paid by each of the customers to maintain the lions habitat at the park and ensure that they can “hold” them to send off to breeding programs if required.

We waited at the meeting place where we were briefed by a staff member before being led into the African Lion Habitat and to a specially modified vehicle. This was our time to come face-to-face with the lions!

Lion Encounter

We boarded the vehicle and the Orana guides locked the gates. Our heart rates went through the roof as we entered the lion habitat and were immediately set upon from all angles by the entire pride of lions, clearly hungry for some fresh meat.

All we could hope was that they didn’t want a piece of tasty us.

Lion Encounter at Orana Wildlife Park

Fortunately we were well back in the safety of the cage as the guide carefully fed them through the gaps in the steel. Hearing these lions snarl and watching them pounce onto the cage in search of food was a truly remarkable experience and one we’ll never forget.

If you haven’t already, check out the video at the top of the post. That will show you exactly what we saw from within the cage!

Would you come face-to-face with a lion like we did?


  1. Posted February 11, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Wow, this looks amazing. Lions are so cute! I had the chance to feed lions a couple of weeks ago in South Africa but I’m a total wimp and chickened out as soon as I saw those teeth!
    Monica recently posted..Incredible views from Table Mountain, South Africa

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      No way! You had the chance to feed lions yourself? That would’ve been awesome! We weren’t allowed anywhere near them for good reason haha.

  2. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe that guy was just feeding them with his bare hands. To me, that is absolutely the craziest part of this entire thing!
    Steph (@20YH) recently posted..Revelations in the Rice Terraces

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Yep! We thought he was crazy too but he made sure that no part of his hand was going through the gaps in the steel.

  3. Posted February 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    This is quite crazy… Watching that video it felt like I was watching a trailer for a horror movie… and I was really expecting the scary part where the cage gets distroyed or something like that…
    Izy Berry recently posted..Volunteering in Cambodia

    • Posted February 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      Haha so glad you were sucked in by the video. Equally glad that the cage didn’t get destroyed when we were in it too!

  4. Posted February 12, 2013 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    wooow amazing!
    Seattle Dredge recently posted..Visiting a Masai Village

  5. Posted February 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Geez – the lion feeder seems to be a bit of a risk-taker with his fingers! I cringed each time he gave them a piece of meat. Glad your cage was securely fastened!
    Time Travel Plans recently posted..Rio’s Favelas

    • Posted February 12, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      Yep, but we’re sure they’ve done it hundreds of times! We were glad to be in the safety of the cage though, they were some fierce lions!

  6. Posted February 22, 2013 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Totally awesome. Great video, I’ve never seen anything like this, I have to admit, it was a little scary.
    Michael recently posted..TuboHotel in Mexico – Hotel Rooms Made Out of Drainage Pipes

    • Posted February 27, 2013 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

      It was a little frightening but fortunately we were safe in that cage. 🙂

  7. Posted February 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    What a crazy experience!
    Sofia recently posted..Living In Kreuzberg, Berlin – Gritty But Cool!

  8. Posted March 12, 2013 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    What?! I was in Christchurch and I never knew about this?! Crumbs.

    I suppose it was normal for you, Amy, really it’s like feeding Kieron…
    Ed Rex recently posted..Top 3 Hostels of my 2013 South America Trip

  9. Posted May 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    OMG that looks like fun!
    Would love to go back to New Zealand.
    That sight makes me a little homesick!! (for Africa)

    We got to bottle feed tigers in Thailand which was fun
    Sam D – Travellingki recently posted..Best of Bangkok (PHOTO BLOG)

  10. Posted May 11, 2013 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Wow, what a great experience. I think I would have to fight the reflex to jump back and away from the lions!
    Emma @ GottaKeepMovi recently posted..World Food Roundup – Mexico, Argentina & Thailand

  11. Posted May 14, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Great video and experience! I so want to do it!
    Marysia @ My Travel recently posted..Friday Lens Affair #20

  12. Posted June 15, 2013 at 3:07 am | Permalink

    Hey guys! I almost laughed out loud when I came to your homepage! Our most recent post that comes up on our site is from our visit to feeding the lions in Christchurch!! Love your video! I’d have to agree that out of all of our animal encounters this one was the most exciting 🙂
    Kathleen recently posted..Photo Essay: Feeding Giraffes and Visiting Rhinos

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