Sleeping With Lions

We’ve heard some crazy stories here at National Geographic—everything from a polar bear that shredded an occupied tent to a livid elephant that nearly gored a man. None so terrifying, however, than Big Cats Initiative Grantee Amy Dickman‘s lion encounter … but maybe not in the way you might think.

Big Cat Week 

Big Cat Week is right around the corner. A week dedicated to nature’s fiercest felines, we’re celebrating these magnificent creatures by rounding up a team of big cat experts like Amy Dickman, photographers, and even an NFL football player for our next Google+ Hangout on Tuesday, December 3rd at 12:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. UTC). And don’t forgot to tune into Nat Geo WILD for a week of non-stop big cat programming beginning November 29th.

How to Participate in the Hangout

You can be a part of the Cause an Uproar and our Google+ Hangout. Send in your questions for these National Geographic Explorers and they may be asked on air. Submit your questions by…

  • Uploading a video question to YouTube with hashtag #bigcats
  • Posting a question on Google+ or Twitter with hashtag #bigcats or
  • Commenting directly on this blog post

Follow National Geographic on Google+ or return to this blog post to watch the Google+ Hangout Tuesday, December 3rd at 12:30 p.m. EST (5:30 p.m. UTC).

For full details and the list of participating explorers click here.

Other Hangouts From National Geographic:

Hangout With Buzz Aldrin and Conrad Anker
Hangout With Explorers on All Seven Continents


    How exciting and scary. Don’t think I could have fallen asleep!! In a tent in the Serengeti, my tent mate work me up saying there was something outside. I said where’s the flashlight. She said don’t do that, it will know we’re here. Then we heard growling. Next morning there were feathers all over the place and lion prints. Guess the lion had bird for dinner. Glad it wasn’t us.

  • Becky Johnson

    wow Amy! what an experience! I would have been so nervous that the entire tent would be shaking & the Lion would have probably sensed it. With an experience like this you probably feel a little “closer” to these beautiful yet terrifying cats.

  • Phillip H George

    Greetings, Amy Dickman’s And National Geographic
    Hope everyone is having a fine Day!
    Dear, Amy Dickman’s
    Truly enjoyed your story about the lion. The only other story that I know where another human may have sleep so close to wilderness wild lions or lion is Daniel in the Lion’s Den, strangely I believe your Lion was sent there to protect you that night, that being true you encounter a supernatural intervention from God, (“A True Miracle Happen During That Time!”)
    “I have a pondering question I will ask of myself ?”
    ‘Why would people in charge put you out there on the ground all by yourself in harms-way?’ “To Me That’s Bad-joking!”
    Amy, that lion knew you were there; it smelled you long before you smelled it, a lion that close can smell your breath, I’m truly surprised you wasn’t a meal for the lion, you could have being eaten at anytime, it’s very strange how the Lion rested and afterwards went on it’s way, during all that time it knew you were there, truly within my heart is a knowing both of you were Blessed That Night and I believe the Good Lord has Great Works Planed For Your Love of His Creatures, Please at all times Be Careful Amy, and Thank You very much for all your works.
    Amy, this is kinda funny but most likely not, if all the creatures could say Thank You they Dearly would, so this little prayer is from All the Creatures living today who haven’t voices. Thank-you from all of our hearts big and small Amy Dickman’s for your many kind caring works with great hopes We ask God’s Loving Blessings to be with you at all-times so you can enjoy the True Wonders of Our Homelands. Amen
    Dear, Any
    I pray for your safe keeping at all times with hopes when the time is right you will meet your Miracle Loin in Heaven where you will become Great Friends again, ‘this too,’ Thank You Great Lord for your many beautiful wonders, please guard-over All the Great Caring People trying to help your amazing creatures here on Earth. Amen
    Respectfully Yours,
    Phillip H George

  • erin livan

    they say poeple start looking like their animals,,few more hormones-this lady s feline features ,attracting mates

  • Tamara

    I sleep with my tiny little kitty..I couldn’t imagine a lion..what a great story she tells

  • lara

    is fantastik,amazing,is one beautiful icon.

  • hadi

    i love you nqt geo

  • Charlotte Stevens

    I seriously cannot even believe you looked so excited at the thought of having to kill such a beautiful and innocent animal. You put yourself in that situation, I’d take death willingly rather than kill the poor thing who obviously would have thought you were a threat to its family if it went for you.

  • Angela

    Woah that story was amazing! What are some biggest challenges big cats face right now?

  • Rowley Birkin QC

    Bravo! Bravo! I kept waiting to hear that you were very drunk at the time…

  • Susan Portnoy

    Amy – I was always under the impression that lions saw tents as solid objects, and while he may smell you, he doesn’t necessarily equate you with food. I thought that lions typically attack humans because somehow they feel threatened, or a human acts like prey – ie running away. Was there really any reason to expect him to enter? Were you not zipped in? Were both ends open? Is there precedence for a lion to arbitrarily rip open a tent?

    I was in SA years ago with a zip up tent that was mounted on a cement slab. In the night, my boyfriend and I heard lion calls in the distance when suddenly, literally next to our heads but on the other side of the canvas, we heard a lion respond to the calls. He was sitting inches from us, separated by canvas. Later we learned that two males and a female had entered the camp. The female had lain outside the guard’s door and he was stuck in his little station all night. Our lion was gone by the time the sun had fully risen.

    Maybe we were idiots, but I never felt threatened because I was told that predators see the tents as solid. Anyway, I loved the experience.

  • Nico

    exciting stuff.

  • Juan Camilo


    (Sorry but EE.UU. is not “AMÉRICA”, USA is part of Noth America)!!!

  • Sandy Traub

    Cannot view on iPad which doesn’t support Flash

  • Nathalie

    My cat sometimes lays down on the back, showing his tummy and often sleeps like that too. Do big cats do that and if so, why?

  • Joe Thompson

    National Geo is the best thing on TV.

  • Carolyn Justin

    Great education…

    Its one of my dream…to see the Lions in there natural habitat..

    You all have a spirit of the Lions….Brave
    .great job..

  • David Crawfurd

    I came to this website hoping to make a small donation to ‘Causeanuproar,’ but can see nothing on this page to allow me to do so! That’s really what I call keeping a low profile.

    David Crawfurd

  • Giles


    I am sorry but I am struggling to believe your story.

    Firstly the situation about you having the only tent on the ground amongst other platform tents.

    Secondly your description of a huge lion coming into the area – you were asleep in your tent with the the doors closed – how on earth could you have known how big the lion was or looked like.

    Plus the idea of Biologist finding some kind of sick joy about stabbing a lion in the throat is beyond comprehension – being struck by a lion would have rendered you unconscious, killed you or seriously harmed you before you could have attacked the lion, they are quick and powerful. Plus you would have known that lion was going to attack as they breathe differently went hungry or on the hunt for food.

    I feel quite angry about your story and they way you tell it and to be perfectly honest I would not have you on my team if I had one.

    Talking to lions is about trust. My experience of them is that if you are quiet and confident they will not attack and in return the either ignore you or have a certain level of curiosity as to who you are.

    Think carefully before embarking on your ‘stories’ of bush experience.

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