Now lions are an endangered species. According to estimates by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in 2008 there were 16,000 to 30,000 lions in the wild, with the prognosis that in the next 20 years these numbers could decrease by 30 to 50 percent, especially due to an increase in hunting and agricultural use of the land. 


The lions that perform with Alexander and Martin Lacey are not from the wild. Quite the contrary, all Lacey Lions come from their family of animals, and most of them directly from the Lacey breeding program, which can look back on a proud 10 generations now. Although all Lacey Lions are familiar with the people, you should never forget that they are big cats with all the instincts and impulses of their relatives in the wild.  They should not be feared, but rather shown great respect. 


The daily interaction with the cats, what the Laceys’ declared as "work" their four-legged friends see as a fun routine. Like any good performance, the Lacey Lions show skills based on their natural instincts. The brothers use these natural habits to make the training fun for the animals. The Lacey brothers know their lions from a young age and watch them from the first day of life.  They observe and answer questions such as: Are they lively and do they like to jump? Are they gentle, or do they like to play?  What is their favorite thing to do? What the lion as an individual likes is put into training. The next step is to encourage intrinsic motivation through an appraisal system which includes recognition of their "Alpha-lion" Alexander and Martin Lacey Jr.  


Youngsters, however, spend their first year playing and becoming familiar with their lion/human family. In the second year of a lion’s life they would enter training which leads up to their introduction to the ring. It is definitely a "must" which is easily seen from the fact that both male and female lions go voluntarily and without fear through the tunnel. Even lions would find life boring to just lie around all day and wait for food. Training and presentation are a daily entertainment and stimulation for them. 

However one cannot overestimate them. Alexander and Martin Lacey Jr. know that. The lions cannot concentrate for much more than a quarter of an hour at a time. So  both trainers work in the outdoor enclosure as well as in the ring and are never away from their lions for long periods of time.

In the ring the horse whip and stick are utilized as an extension of the arm and voice.  They help to amplify the trainer for better communication. When they are on the floor they show the direction in which to go; the whip calls attention with its cracks. The whip is not used as a weapon.  Evidence of this can be seen by those with a keen eye: none of our lions fear the whip. On the contrary: the lions see it as a playful " touch" just like with the stick. 

[Translate to English:] Tierhaltung auf Reisen