BucketTalk Ep 30 | James Smith

James Smith



On this week’s Bucket Talk, we catch up with James Smith, also known as Lion Dad. James is a caretaker of exotic animals in Stanton, Missouri. After getting his start cleaning horse stalls, he worked his way up into working with wildlife and the rest is history. Listen in as the guys chat with James about transitioning into being a caretaker, what it is like working with wolves vs. coyotes, playing with a 300 pound lion, and a bunch more.

View the transcript


James Smith, aka Lion Dad, has been working with animals for almost two decades. He started out scooping poop and cleaning horse stalls, and eventually came to the realization that he wanted to work with wild animals. Despite having minimal experience, he was hired on. He attributes this to his willingness to really put in the work. 

“I tell everybody, even the people that come through the facility, or all the people that message me and comment, how do we get this job, it's one of those you've got to try, it's a hard job to get. You're going to hear no a lot. But when you finally get that, yes, it makes all of it so worth it.”

Currently, he works with lions, wolves, coyotes, and a handful of other wild animals in Stanton, Missouri. Currently, he spends most of his time with their wolves — and he even spent the last nine years raising a few of them himself. When he’s not spending time with his wolves, he takes care of other exotic animals at the facility.

“If I continue to do this for the rest of my life, working underneath someone and just raising animals and spreading the positive side of these big cats and these wolves, I'd be completely fine with that.”

We got a little insight into his future and what he has planned out. Rather than open his own wildlife facility, he is passionate about his job, and couldn’t see himself doing anything else than what he’s doing right now. The thing that got him involved in the first place was his passion for the animals themselves, so maximizing personal time with the wolves and big cats is what he enjoys most.

Visit James's social links


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