Move over David Beckham, there’s a new soccer star with great hair in town. Triton the lion was bred in captivity, and hand-raised by keepers at the Johannesburg Zoo in South Africa. While some may be unnerved to see this magnificent animal residing in a habitat rather than on the savannah, habitat loss and poaching has contributed to a rapid decline of his kind. In fact, lions used to be the most populous mammal on the planet, other than humans, but today, the World Wildlife Fund lists them as “vulnerable” – only a step away from endangered.
Without the work of organizations like the Johannesburg Zoo, lions like Triton could disappear entirely; however, a challenge they face is keeping the big cats entertained. Without the distraction of hunting and stalking prey, things can get a little dull. When zookeepers noticed Triton becoming bored with his everyday routine, they decided to give him a soccer ball. What he did next was completely unexpected. Most hilariously, the zoo’s four other lions are completely disinterested. Triton was simply born to be a soccer star.