Kevin Richardson is famous as “The Lion Whisperer.”

It’s not hard to see why. This incredible clip shows Richardson walking straight into the cage of a lioness shortly after she has delivered a litter of cubs. She grabs him with her paws, and then — hauls him in for a big hug.Richardson has worked with lions for years, and he knows how to gain their trust. To them, he’s a member of the pride (albeit a member who can’t hunt very well). The lioness knocks him down and plays with him, and at points in the video, she looks like an overgrown house cat. She doesn’t mind Richardson picking up her cubs, and he even turns his back on her several times.

Make no mistake: lions aren’t big, cuddly animals.

They’re extremely dangerous, and even though Richardson is a professional, his tactics are somewhat controversial. He defends his methods by noting that he’s known all of his animals since they were cubs.”Obviously one realizes the danger when working with animals of this caliber, I’ve weighed the pros and I’ve weighed the cons,” he said, “and the pros far outweigh the cons.”

Richardson is occasionally hurt by the lions, but never maliciously.

During play, he’s been scratched and bitten, but he says that the lions don’t mean him any harm. To Richardson, a personal connection is essential. His methods allow him to get closer to the big cats to study their behavior, and he’s become a major name in the conservation movement.By the way, Richardson’s life isn’t just about lions. He is married to his lion park’s marketing manager and has two children.