Adult male lions are formidable big cats with majestic manes and powerful builds. Their very presence commands respect and the wild, noble air about them has fascinated humans for centuries. When you think of the large carnivores you often think of them prowling around, fighting for dominance, hunting, and of course sleeping away the hot days and relaxing with other lions in the pride.
One thing you don’t imagine is seeing one playing with a soccer ball. However, there is a beautiful adult male lion who loves nothing more than doing exactly that! Triton is an eleven year old white lion who comes to life when a soccer ball is thrown his way. Whenever he sees his caretaker about to toss him the ball he immediately jumps up, lets out an excited roar, and runs over to inspect it. That’s when the playtime fun begins. He likes to swipe the ball with his huge paws and pass it around to himself while chasing it around the enclosure. He even follows after the soccer ball when it rolls into the water, not hesitating for a second to jump into the pond and get soaked. It seems that nothing can stop him or get in the way during his football practice. He won’t even pay attention to or play with the female lionesses when his soccer ball is around!
Triton’s caretakers are always giving him new balls because he wears them out so quickly with all the chewing and batting around. He lives at the Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa where caretaker Agnes Maluleke looks after him and all of the other large carnivores. Out of the ten lions at the zoo in her care, she says that he is the only one who ever takes an interest in the ball. She also says Triton is the best soccer player and that the professionals could learn a thing or two from him. After seeing his skills in action, I have to agree with her. It seems that he is the the only soccer playing lion in the world and a natural at the sport!