Shandor: There’s always that chance that George has the capability to kill me. My name is Shandor Larenty and today we’re going to be counting down my top five best things about being an animal trainer. So starting off with number five. One of the best things about being an animal trainer is getting to educate people about working with these amazing animals. Today, we’re going to be introducing Cindy one of our cheetahs to some of the students we have here at the park. Now Cindy actually only has one eye. And this is something that is becoming more and more prevalent within the rehab centers In southern Africa. Cheetahs are being forced into bushy areas due to human encroachment. This means that they are being forced to hunt in much Bushier denser areas, they running into the fallen trees because they don’t have a great close up vision. And this is how they end
up losing their eyes. Cindy is actually hand reared Cheetah, which is why we’re able to actually get so close to her. The fourth best thing about being an animal trainer is definitely feeding time. Hey Zack. So it’s Zack’s feeding time he get’s so excited over food. And he’s also a very messy eater. As you can see whether it’s milk or whether it’s his pellets, Zack is incredibly messy. Zack is an orphan. We’ve had him for about a year and a half since he was pretty much a newborn. He’s actually starting to wean now. So although he’s been on bottles up to 22 liters of milk a day, he’s moving on to solid foods now. So he’s getting some pellets that are actually made from acacia tree, which helps supplement his diet. But Zach being a big boy now he actually browses from the trees by himself. So up next we’re heading into wild dog territory. The third best thing about being an animal trainer is getting to work with critically endangered species. Getting to work with animals like the African wild dog, it’s a really privileged experience. The wild dogs have a pack mentality because there are canines, and they can be a lot more aggressive. They’re actually quite incredible animals that have incredible personalities, really boisterous, really funny to watch And they’re actually really awesome to work with. It’s really important to protect animals like the African wild dog, if we don’t take action now we’re not going to be able to see them in the wild and captivity is going to be the only place we’ll be able to see them. So it’s so important to educate the kids of today. You know, educating the kids of today’s actually educating our conservationists of tomorrow. It’s all about creating awareness. And you know, we can’t change the past, but we can help protect their future. Next up, let’s go find my dad and have a look at some cheetahs. The second best thing about being an animal trainer is getting to carry on the family tradition. Alex: This is Shatana, one of the first animals that Shandor interacted with on a on a movie set when he was 13. It’s got an amazing face, very photogenic, this Cheetah. Shandor: Growing up around animals and watching my dad do what I do now has been probably one of the biggest reasons that I’ve actually continued the family legacy. Alex: When I first used to bring him into the lions, he was so small used to hide in the footwell, when I got out of the car, but it’s been a natural progression. And he’s, he’s got the heart for it. The most important thing is they become your kids, your family. This is not actually a Cheetah, this is actually Shandor’s sister here or one of his sisters. So he’s, he’s doing very well. And I’m very, very proud of him; he’s going to go far. Shandor: So it is pretty awesome that both myself and my dad gets to have the same career. And finally, the number one best thing about being an animal trainer, getting to spend time with one of my favourite lions, George. Now, this isn’t something that happens overnight. This is something that takes a very long time, we’ve worked together for many, many years, George’s around seven, nearly eight years old now. As you can see, he absolutely loves attention. So lions are definitely one of my favourite animals to interact with. George weighs on 250 kilograms; just his sheer weight alone can very easily push me over onto the floor. And this tail is so incredibly dangerous, doesn’t look like it. But this is like being punched in the face when it does actually hit you. George needs … that was like in the face. If George doesn’t know me, he’s not going to let me in on his personal space here. But this has taken years and years of working together and getting to know each other. And that’s how we’re able to be so close with each other. Probably the most important thing about being an animal trainer is understanding the animal and understanding their body language. So the best part about being able to work with these guys is when the love that you show them as reciprocated back to you. Yes, I have meat now. And he’s, he’s definitely wanting his little treats. Hey, boy. But that’s not always the case. lions being one of the only social cats, they absolutely love interaction, even on the absolute hottest days, they’ll lie right on top of each other. And it just shows you how much they actually enjoy being around people. People always forget that these are wild animals, and they will always have the ability to potentially kill you. So when you’re interacting with them,
you’re never in complete control. Things can turn so quickly here. And there’s always that chance that, you know George has the capability to kill me. And that’s something that you do have to keep in mind. And you do always have to respect. The passion that I have for working with animals is something that, you know, it’s something that can’t be taught. It’s something that’s been instilled in me from a very young age and I’m very fortunate that the Lion and Safari Park I’ve been able to really thrive in working with my passion and creating these amazing bonds with my animal family that I have here.