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 Pictured: A brave British zookeeper gives a relaxing foot massage... to a LION

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PostSubject: Pictured: A brave British zookeeper gives a relaxing foot massage... to a LION   Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:04 pm

Pictured: A brave British zookeeper gives a relaxing foot massage... to a LION

By Graham Smith
Last updated at 8:57 AM on 18th February 2009


Most people shy away from giving their partner a foot massage let alone dishing one out to a 250kilogram killing machine.

But British zookeeper Alex Larenty is made of sterner stuff and has no qualms about gently rubbing the paws of a lion under his care.

The 50-year-old regularly treats Jamu to a foot massage and these pictures make it clear the eight-year-old lion is appreciative.

Rolling around like a kitten, Jamu appears to be having the time of his life.


Foot master: British zookeeper Alex Larenty gives Jamu the lion a relaxing massage

The shots were taken at The Lion Park, near Johannesburg, South Africa, just weeks before a man who broke into the reserve was mauled and killed.

Mr Larenty, who is originally from Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, said the animal has complete trust in him.

He said: 'The photographs demonstrate how much at ease he is with me.

'Trust me, though, you need to know what you are doing and our relationship is one that has built up over the last six years. Jamu won't just let anyone touch him the way I do.

'We have 75 lions here at the park and I know everyone by name, Jamu is a star in his own right though.

'While these lions know me and they are tame in some way, they are still dangerous to people they don't know or in situations they are unsure about.'


Best of friends: Mr Larenty hugs Jamu, who he says has complete trust in him

Mr Larenty revealed that tragically a local a man was killed a few weeks ago after breaking into the park while trying to fulfil a tribal right of passage.

He said: 'The man broke into the park because he was told by his tribal elders that he must walk with lions to prove himself.

'He broke through three fences and walked 150 yards into the park before the lions got him, I found two of them sitting on top of the body the next day.

'It shows that even lions who are not fully wild can still be a real threat if they are not used to you or they don't know you.'

Father-of-two Mr Larenty said he and Jamu had worked together on several wildlife films recreating 'wild' behaviour.

He said: 'Often filmakers want to use Jamu for the shots which they just can't get in the wild and that is where his training comes in.

'People in Britain might recognise Jamu from the TV show Wild At Heart on ITV which he is a regular on.'

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1148509/Pictured-A-brave-British-zookeeper-gives-relaxing-foot-massage--LION.html
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