A financial advisor in Switzerland quit his high paying job to live with a lion

27-year-old Dean Schneider was called by many people the “real-life version of the lion king” when he decided to leave his job as a financial advisor to go to South Africa to “live” with lions.

Quit your high-paying job and follow the “calling” of the lion

Dean Schneider was born and raised in Switzerland. He used to be a financial expert, then a financial advisor with a high income. However, his life and work were completely turned upside down after a trip to South Africa with the company. Here, Dean visited the animal farm of Jesse, his current sanctuary manager. Dean was extremely happy when for the first time in his life he was able to get close and personally feed the lions.

He excitedly recounted that moment on his own YouTube page: “My heart felt like it wanted to jump out of my chest when I saw the strong young lions. They didn’t want to attack or kill me, but simply wanted to kill me.” get acquainted and express love. On the flight back from Africa, I cried, I knew I had to come back to do something special for these animals. And two years later, I did it.”

Dean has outlined a detailed plan to realize his own wishes. At the age of 23, he founded his own company to build a financial foundation to launch the Hakuna Mipaka conservation area project in South Africa. Dean said: This funding source, plus support from his family, allowed his reserve to operate for 2 years without any revenue from tourism, sponsorship or donation activities. He also added that animals in this reserve will not be required to be bred, traded or performed to make money.

See yourself as a “member” in the sanctuary

Hakuna Mipaka Reserve is located in the wilderness of South Africa. Hakuna Mipaka means “unlimited” in Swahili. This oasis has an area of about 400 hectares. This place is home to thousands of wild animals such as lions, cheetahs, giraffes, South African pythons, elephants, hyenas… and animals that have been rescued or born in captivity. . Dean has hired many guards to ensure the safety of animals at Hakuna Mipaka.

Dean once revealed that he is a member of a pride of lions, the “husband” of a hyena and the “father” of two monkeys. Dean views himself as a member of this sanctuary, responsible for protecting all other members. Dean never thought about opening it up to the public or welcoming tourists for a fee.

Dean said he has never felt afraid of lions and never carried a gun to protect himself when around them. “It’s a process. I need to have communication and closeness with them from an early age,” Dean said.

Dean’s difference is that he never considers himself the boss or trainer of any wild animal at the reserve. “I never tell them to walk – sit down or anything like that. They will look at me with their eyes wide open in surprise,” he said.

Of course, his life at the reserve with thousands of “wild friends” is not always smooth. In 2018, Dean was accused of punching a lion’s leg in a self-posted video on social networks. However, he said, this is how he communicates with them. While playing, the lion Nyla scratched a big scratch on his face. He needed to react to let them know it was not good and not to repeat it.

It is known that to ensure construction costs, medical care, and hiring security guards for the reserve, Dean opened a donation fund after the first two years of financial autonomy. He owns a social network account with 7.8 million followers. Here, he posts pictures and videos about life with animals in the oasis but does not advertise or make profit from them.

To maintain the source of fees to cover the reserve, Dean plans to cooperate with television shows in the near future. He also plans to go to further places such as the Amazon and the Arctic and conduct a global speaking tour about nature, climate change, wildlife and their extinction.

Dean wants to dedicate his life to finding “justice” for wild animals. “I’m building a huge audience on social media – which is important because my main mission is to bring animals into people’s hearts, to inspire and educate people globally about the animal world”.


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