5 minutes with a lion trainer
Catch Musa Jhon Selepe perform with the Great Vegas Circus daily at the Bawabat Al Sharq Mall until March 11.
How did you start training lions?
I was actually an artist in the circus doing illusions. That is where I met my boss and he introduced me to this business of animals. I was always interested in working with animals and don’t miss doing illusions.
Are you a big animal lover?
I cannot survive without animals. I love animals. Even in Africa, when I’m home, I have a house but I go to the farm where we have all kinds of animals. It’s nice to wake up in the morning and hear the sounds of the animals.
What other animals have you worked with before?
I’ve worked with tigers, elephants, lions and snakes before. As long as it is a wild animal, I will work with it.
Tell us about your act.
In the circus I have five animals, three males and two females. The show is all about them jumping, sitting them up, laying them down, standing them up.
What do your lions eat?
Today I fed them chicken, so each animal had around 15 to 18 chickens. They eat a lot, I wish you could come and see. Even if you give them four or five kilos of meat, they will eat that and still want more so I have to limit it so that they keep their shape for the show.
How do you get a lion to listen to you?
That is so complicated. It is all about connection. Trust is the first thing. You have to connect with the animal. When the animal feels you are the boss then they won’t overpower you. As long as you have a piece of meat, guiding them, showing them where to go, there is no problem. You teach them like how you would teach your child.
Do you ever get scared?
Yeah, it is a different feeling as soon as you enter the cage. You never know what could happen. I can’t do it alone; I always have an assistant looking after my back. You cannot be alone; if you are alone your life is in danger.
What is your favourite part about working with wild animals?
The danger. I love that.
Any animals you don’t want to work with?
I don’t want to work with dogs. I’m scared of dogs, I don’t like to see them.
So you’re scared of dogs, but okay working with lions?
Which animal is the hardest to work with?
The male lions are the hardest to work with. They are so aggressive and stubborn, but when you are the king you can be stubborn.
Bawabat Al Sharq Mall, Baniyas, Abu Dhabi, until March 11, 6pm and 9pm, Dhs75 to Dhs200. Tel: (056) 9365999. Taxi: Bawabat Al Sharq Mall. basmall.ae