Neil, the pet lion

This is the story of Neil the Lion, who tried to be domesticated by a family in the 1970s, but also a story that reminds us that no matter how much we love an animal, we will never understand your mind of a wild animal.

After a trip to Africa, actress Tippi Hedren, husband Noel Marshal and daughter Melanie Griffith wanted to make a movie about lions. Following the advice of Ron Oxley, animal handler, who indicated that “to meet the lions, you have to live with one for a while,” the family arranged a lion: Neil.

Living with the lion seems to have gone well, as shown by the photographs of LIFE photographer Michael Rougier. However, the same did not happen with the film, Roar.

Melanie had to take 50 points after being really attacked by a lioness used in the film and the photo editor, Jan de Bont, had to have her scalp baked. About 70 were eventually injured by animals – about 150 felines were used. The film cost more than € 13.7 million and yielded only about € 1.57 million.

However, although the film was a failure and produced a high number of accidents, after the filming, Hedren founded the Shambala Preserve, a sanctuary for exotic animals mistreated or neglected.


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