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Pastor Daniel: Claims that a Christian preacher has the power to tame lions are false

The man is seen playing with the three lions in an enclosure

By Peter Mwai

A video of a man in a suit stroking three lions has been widely shared online in several African countries, but it does not show a church pastor demonstrating his powers to tame lions as many online have claimed.

In the short film, a man in a blue suit can be seen playing with the lions, at one point putting his hand inside the mouth of one of them.

Outside the enclosure, a small crowd is watching, some filming or taking pictures.

The video itself is real enough and there appears to be no manipulation of the footage.

So who is the man?

Screengrab of Instagram post calling the pastor Daniel
A Nigerian blogger with a large following says church leader “Pastor Daniel” has tamed the lions

Widespread claims have spread online that he is a church pastor recreating the Biblical story Daniel in the lions’ den in a bid to prove his powers to his followers.

“Pastor Daniel brought his church members to show them that nothing can happen to a man of God,” a Nigerian blogger wrote on Instagram.

The video has been widely shared in recent days in Ghana and Nigeria, but appears to have originated in Somalia.

In Kenya, a local television station has shared the video on its social media accounts.

This caught the attention of a Kenyan member of parliament, Ronald Karauri, who appeared to believe the Daniel and the lions story.

“I volunteer to take him to the Maasai Mara [national park] please, all expenses paid. We look for the lions and he can go walk with them,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Who is the man in the lions’ den?

The BBC has identified the man, and he’s not a church leader.

Using a reverse image search we found a news story on YouTube from 2021 filmed at a tourist park in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in which an enclosure matched that holding the lions in the viral video.

We were also able to determine that the man interviewed in the earlier film, named as Mohamed Abdirahman Mohamed, was the same as the one in the clip being shared across Africa in recent days.

He is a zookeeper and has been working at the park for over eight years.

The story mentioned a tourist park in Mogadishu, which by searching the name on TikTok in Somali led us to an account where the original video had been posted.

There are other videos of Mohamed with the lions, the oldest posted in March this year.

We also traced a Facebook page in the park’s name where in April, they had promoted the lions as an attraction available during Eid – the Muslim festival that marks the end of Ramadan.

Mr Mohamed, the man stroking the lions, spoke to the BBC Somali’s Mohamed Abdiaziz last year.

He said he had trained the animals he takes care of, including lions and snakes, and now considers them safe for him to handle.

Mohamed with a python
Mohamed often plays with various animals he has trained including snakes

During the BBC Somali interview, he played with a python, at one point putting the head of the snake in his mouth, as shocked people around him screamed.

Mr Mohamed said that he had learned about rearing and taking care of wild animals on his own and was confident in his abilities.

“They are harmless, they are like my children,” he told BBC Somali.

But incidents of lions and other animals in captivity attacking people are not uncommon.

Last year, a man was mauled to death by a lion after he climbed into a zoo enclosure in Accra, Ghana.

Source: BBC

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