But whether the lions are gaining sanctuary from a rapidly declining bush land, or even love from humans, there is something else that can't be measured -- what remains of their wildness in captivity. Richardson never loses sight that the lions can turn on him in the space of a breath. And, each other. He was reminded of this two nights before ABC News' visit in October 2008 when a lioness named Maditau suddenly became deadly.
"She came flying at me. Like I've never seen her come before. She charged me, full-on charge. And stopped, literally, half a meter in front of me, tail flicking around, eyes as mad as a snake," Richardson remembers.
Maditau had stolen a newborn cub from her sister's litter, intent on destroying it. Kevin was intent on saving the young lion. And his relationship with the 400 pound lioness was about to reach the breaking point.
"She turned around and went back to the cub, which was squealing. It had lacerations I could see everywhere. And she charged me another three times after that. If I moved my arm she would react. If I tried to take a step backwards, she would react. And the tail was winding up and I knew the ... the next time I knew it wasn't a joke," says Richardson.
Watch what happens on Tuesday, Aug. 11, as Primetime's "The Outsiders" returns in its season debut