Ex-Financier Forms Unique Bond with Lions, Play-Fighting in South African Sanctuary

Dean Schneider, a former Swiss financier, pursued his passion for wildlife advocacy and traded his successful career to care for a pride of lions in South Africa.

He now runs a wildlife sanctuary where he shares astounding images and videos on Instagram, showcasing his close bond with these magnificent creatures.

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Swiss financier Dean Schneider, 27, quit his job to look after a pride of lions and other wildlife at his Hakuna Mipaka Oasis reserve in South Africa’s wilderness. Source: Daily Mail

Schneider emphasizes that his relationship with the lions goes beyond just playing with them. He views himself as part of their pride and participates in challenging situations.


He warns others against playing with lions, as he has developed a deep understanding of their behavior and communication.

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Unnerving footage shows Dean standing calmly to greet three big cats who come bounding out of long grass and knock him to the ground. Source: Daily Mail

Fear is something Schneider never experiences when interacting with the lions. He believes that fear stems from the unknown, and since he understands how lions think, he remains unafraid, even when hurt.

Schneider also notes that he would never attempt to interact with truly wild animals, as it would be impossible to gain their trust without raising them from a young age.


The bond Schneider shares with the lions is natural, and he does not see himself as their authority figure.

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‘I wouldn’t call it playing with lions,’ says Dean. ‘Because it’s more living with lions and being part of their pride.’ Source: Daily Mail

He focuses on communication through body language, which he considers essential for a harmonious relationship with the animals.

Schneider admires lions’ intelligence, wisdom, and ability to create and execute strategies.


Schneider is working on several projects to further his mission of inspiring and educating people globally about the animal kingdom.

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Despite spending much of his days since moving to South Africa frolicking with strong, toothsome beasts, Dean says he’s never scared. Pictured: With Dexter, the lion. Source: Daily Mail
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‘With lions, I know exactly how they think and how they work. I’m constantly communicating with them when I’m spending time with them. So there was never a situation where I was scared, even when they hurt me. Source: Daily Mail

He aims to build a large social media audience. He has initiated the “Live Wild” project to allocate 300 hectares of his 360-hectare property for the lion pride to live and hunt independently.

Though maintaining the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis is financially challenging, Schneider is content with his life choice and finds fulfillment in dedicating his time, money, and energy to the world of animals.

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His reserve, the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis, is an expensive enterprise, with costs including building camps, feeding animals, paying vet bills, and a new second fence planned for an enlarged lion enclosure. Source: Daily Mail
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Dean says he would stop short of interacting with wild animals, who are much more likely to see him as a threat. Pictured: Chuckie, the hyena, with Dean’s hand in his mouth. Source: Daily Mail
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‘You have to grow into it, you have to know them from small on, and then you can do things like that. Otherwise, this will never work’. Source: Daily Mail
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‘They don’t look at me like a teacher or a boss. There is no chance I could tell Dexter or one of my animals to walk there, sit down, or do this and that. They will look at me and think what is this guy talking about? Source: Daily Mail
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‘The more you understand them, the more you can communicate with them clearly. I think that’s a secret. Source: Daily Mail
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‘Lions break everything down into a simple picture, making them often very wise as they think situations.’ Source: Daily Mail
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‘My main mission is to bring animals into people’s hearts to inspire and educate people globally about the animal kingdom. Source: Daily Mail
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Despite the challenges, Dean is happy with his life choices and is unlikely to get back into the cut-throat world of finance any time soon. Source: Daily Mail

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