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Animal welfareHannes Jaenicke wants to save the lions

Hannes Jaenicke wants to protect the lions in Africa from illegal lion hunting.
Photo: Michael de Boer / action press for Bauer Stars & Stories
  1. The lions are shot in fenced enclosures
  2. L wen have lost nothing on the lap
  3. Exclusive interview with Hannes Jaenicke
  4. "The last thing I would do would be to give my parents home."
  5. "I can do something meaningful without my own children"

The lions are shot in fenced enclosures

Actor Hannes Jaenicke wants to protect the lions in Africa from insidious hunters. What he experiences, he shows in the ZDF documentary "In Action for Lions".

The king of animals is threatened with extinction. Only 15, 000 lions left in Africa - a dramatic number! Reason enough for actor Hannes Jaenicke (55) to dedicate the current episode of his ZDF documentary series "In Action for ..." to this species (broadcast: 7 July 2015, 10:15 pm, ZDF) . He denounces especially the business around the illegal lion hunting.

First stop of his documentary: A visit to a lion breeder in Kroonstad / South Africa. As a tourist attraction, she offers a petting zoo with cute lion cubs. What few people know: These lions stay in the hatchery until the age of six to seven years. Then you sell them to middlemen who organize so-called "gate hunts". Rich Russians, Americans, but also Germans shoot lions in fenced enclosures. Such a shoot costs up to 25, 000 euros. Since the animals are raised by hand, they show no fear of humans. Sometimes they are lured with bait or sedated with medication. "A perverted kind of trophy hunting, which must be stopped, " says Hannes Jaenicke angrily.

The second stop of Jaenicke's visit to South Africa shows that there is another way: Lionsrock Park, four hours drive south of Johannesburg.

FOUR PAWS has created a wildlife sanctuary over 12 square kilometers near the city of Bethlehem. In the grassy and bushy plateau live lions, tigers, leopards and many other wildlife such as zebras, wildebeests, ostriches and antelopes. Big cats from a formerly poor posture, such as in the zoo or circus, find a new home here. A total of 87 lions have found a new home here. In "Lionsrock" they may not be hunted, traded or bred. Hannes Jaenicke stayed here while filming in a typical South African lodge. He helps the Rangers with feeding and dealing with the animals.

One of the most dangerous situations during the shooting: Hannes Jaenicke in touch with the Lion-Lady "Baba Gee" (7 months). The mother did not want the animal, after three days the breeder took the baby to her, let it sleep in her own bed. Baba Gee is used to humans - and yet a wild animal! While bellowing with Hannes, the animal claws his paws into the back of the actor, later scratching his arm. Blood flows. For the animal, nothing more than play behavior - under certain circumstances life-threatening for humans.

A popular tourist attraction: Hannes Jaenicke cuddles with a four-week-old lion cub. Sweet - and yet you should rather forego this fun: The breeders remove the little ones at the age of two weeks from their mothers and pull them with the bottle, so they get used to people early. A release is later no longer possible because the animals thereby lose much of their original instincts. "Through regular feeding and captivity, they unlearn hunting and have no stamina. In the wild, the animals would starve to death, "explains Hannes Jaenicke.

In adulthood, the animals are sold to hunters: " First stroke, then shoot - a perverse industry that is unfortunately common in South Africa, " said Hannes Jaenicke.

The report Hannes Jaenicke - In action for Löwen will be broadcast on July 7, 2015 at 10:15 pm on ZDF.


"Lions have lost nothing on their lap"

Exclusive interview with Hannes Jaenicke

He is fighting for the rights of the animals: BAUER STARS & STORIES has accompanied actor Hannes Jaenicke to shoot TV in South Africa. There, the TV star is committed to the interests of the lions. In the exclusive interview, he not only talks about the drama about the lions, but also about his mother's state of health, why he does not care about money, fate and death, his life in America and he reveals that he still has children in wants to set the world.

Mr Jaenicke, do not you get an incredible number of requests from people who want you to support their projects?

My PR agency receives such requests on a daily basis. Most of them have to be canceled for reasons of time, although they are often great projects and organizations that ask for my help. There are few people in the media industry in Germany who are involved in environmental and nature conservation matters. That's why I'm probably so often addressed.

How do you select which project you want to support?

I decide on topic and instinct. For a while I got involved in too many things and got totally bogged down. There are just too many projects worth supporting, which is because there are countless construction sites in the world that need support. There are about 20 organizations that I support on a regular basis. These include, for example, "Fans for Nature", a rainforest afforestation organization in Indonesia, the AGA (Wildlife Conservation Action Group), "SharkAllies" (American Shark and Marine Organization), the DUH (GERMAN ENVIRONMENTAL AID), GREENPEACE, the CBM ( Christoffel-Blindenmission) or the ICT (International Campaign for Tibet), which stands up for the brutally oppressed Tibetans by the Chinese regime. I do as much as I can for these organizations and also support them financially. Otherwise, I focus on specific projects.

Can you tell how much time of your life you actor, how much activist and how much private person you are?

Acting is and remains my profession and earning a living, which is still a lot of fun for me. And since I'm lucky enough to earn good money with my job, I can then turn this into charitable projects. If I only shoot documentaries, that would not work. So I have to keep playing to keep the whole store running. I admit that I've done a lot of crap just because it was well paid. I then recalculate my fee in square meters of reforested rainforest. Or in blind children in Africa or Asia, who can see again after a cataract surgery, because the CBM pays these operations. Such an operation costs 30 euros - and changes the whole life of these children. For that, I like to participate in a mediocre movie or a superfluous quiz show.

What role does money play in your life?

My grandmother used to say, "As you throw the money out of the window, the door will come in again if you throw it out properly!" I live well but modestly - and do not put much on the high rims. Who should I leave that to? Since I enjoy my work, I will probably never stop working.

Are you motivated by the fact that one gets a longer life expectancy when doing good?

It has been statistically proven that people who engage socially live longer. Even people who say more "we" than "me" live longer. On average, seven years! If you only see yourself, every crisis rolls over you like an avalanche. Egomania and selfishness are unhealthy. Unsocial living is unhealthy. The people who really have money and just take care of themselves, may own a nicer house, drive thicker cars and make luxury vacation regularly. I'm a happier person for that. And I sleep better.

"The last thing I would do would be to put my parents in a home"

Was it a slow process for you to realize that you are becoming happier because you are socially engaged?

No, I think that's from my parents. Especially from my mother. She had a stroke last year. But until that day she went to her local branch of Amnesty International every week. With 84! My mother was always very committed and educated us to think in a similar way. I do not come from a rich family, but what we did not use up or used was basically donated. Even as a child I saw people who were much worse off than we were. In the late 1960s, we lived in the US during the great race riots. Martin Luther King was shot dead in April 68, Bobby Kennedy two months later. There was a curfew for children from 5pm. The blacks then drove through the streets and fired indiscriminately whites. And my parents have done the trick of explaining to us that blacks need to be understood, and that such escalations are the result of hardship and poverty. In that sense, my siblings and I did not grow up in wadding pillows, but thanks to my parents with a fairly pronounced sense of justice. I have always traveled a lot, also thanks to the documentary, and have seen the poorest countries in the world. I know how hungry, leprosy and polio look like. If you live as privileged as we do in Germany, you have the duty and obligation to pass something on. What should I do with my money? Buy a Porsche and drive on the golf course? I do not understand how you can buy cars or luxury clothes for such sums of money, if you know what's going on in the world just four or five hours away from Germany. I have always been a conscientious objector - and I am happy to see it!

How is your mother today?

She is fighting bravely. She is paralyzed on one side and sits in a wheelchair. Until her stroke she was fit as a sneaker and incredibly active. It's hard for me to see her like that, but we're optimistic to get her out of the wheelchair again. For several weeks, a walker is going in steps. I visit her so long and so often, until she can walk again. That is the plan! My siblings and I organize what is possible: physiotherapy and ergo therapy, full-time care for my demented father. Thankfully, we deserve enough to keep both at home and maintain the standard of care relatively high. The last thing we would do is put my parents in a home.

How do you manage to be there for your parents when you are so much away?

I spend a lot of time in Munich mainly because of the docs. It's only three and a half hours to my parents near Frankfurt. I drive there in the afternoon or evening and return the next day. I do that every day off. We'll do it well.

Does it make one more thoughtful, what concerns the own life, if one experiences such a stroke of fate in the family?

All I know is that I want to go very fast someday. This sucking would be extremely difficult for me. Of course, you think about age. My parents have three children - I have none. Nobody will care for me. Luckily I have some wonderful friends. I know that at least a few of them would move to the nursing home with me. That will be really funny! (Laughs)

Have you thought about bringing your parents to the USA?

My parents would be better off in the US than in Germany. There is always a lot of abuse on the American social system. But geriatric care is much better organized there than here. The care situation in Germany is a disaster. The system relies completely on the fact that thousands of women from Poland and Eastern Europe take over the entire care of old age in Germany. We spend billions saving any banks, subsidizing factory farming and the auto industry - but we have no money to pay decently to those who feed our old people. I feel that as a scandal. There the Americans are different. I looked at a home in Santa Monica. The care would cost for both half of what we pay here. But I can not repot my parents. It's too late for that.

Did your parents never want to follow you to the US before?

My dad used to work a lot in the US and would not have minded spending his pension there. However, our mother rules here. And it has always felt more comfortable in Europe than in the US.

Do you feel homesick for Germany when you are in the US - or homesick for the US when in Germany?

If I could answer that question, I would not have two residences (laughs). For 25 years I have only come to work in Germany and to see my friends and family. When I'm in the US for three months straight, I get homesick for Europe. But after two months shooting a movie in Germany, I'm glad to be able to return to America. I know that it is a great luxury to be able to commute between the old and the new world. California is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. There is everything: sea, mountains, deserts. The people there are incredibly liberal, in a good mood, relaxed and thinking more advanced than anywhere else in the world. California is my home.

Is this also the place where you would like to grow old?

The family is the reason why I like to be in Germany. I have two families, so to speak: my own, with my siblings, cousins, cousins, nieces and nephews. And the self-chosen ones: my friends. If these families did not exist, I would have gone all the way to the USA. And when I get old, I decide when the time comes.

"I can do something meaningful without my own children"

Is your own family planning really ticked off for you?

I am 55 now. I do not feel like being in the 70s and then have to deal with the fact that my child has just come back drunk or stoned home. This is not my idea of ​​fatherhood. I think I can do something meaningful in this world, even without having children of my own. If I had children, I would not be able to tingle through the most remote corners of the planet and make films about lions, orangutans, sharks, or run after polar bears in the Arctic. I am a satisfied person even without children.

Can you do well with children?

Yes, very good.

When you held the lion cub in your arms and gave it the vial, did not you have any father feelings?

No, just the opposite. I think it's a perverted thing to do. I only did that, so that it does not catch my eye that we introduced ourselves as a German travel magazine to the breeder. Lions are wild animals that have lost nothing in the petting zoo, in the circus, on their lap, arm or anywhere else. I find it criminal to snatch a lion from its mother in the baby age to make it a commercial object. They may look cute, but you should resist the attempt. Lions, no matter how young or small, are not domestic cats.

These baby lions are raised and later sold for the so-called gate hunting.

The type of trophy hunting is indeed in our film. Rich Germans, Austrians, Russians, Arabs, Spaniards or Americans enjoy making a fenced, bottle and hand raised tame lion. A shooting costs between 25, 000 and 45, 000 euros. Anyone who shoots such a majestic animal for fun or "sport" should be released for hunting. Seriously. Hunting is child's play with today's weapons. You can even do that in a drunken state - especially since the lion hardly moves, because he is used to people since birth and during the day preferably lies lazily under the tree.

Why are you now dedicating yourself to the lion as a threatened species?

It was ZDF's decision to make a film about Leo. I do not care what dying species or environmental disaster we turn. The main thing is that we can make a difference with our films. I have to admit: I did not know that lions are threatened with extinction. I thought it was a species in which the numbers are still halfway okay. I wish that the audience will learn as much while watching the movie as I do when shooting. And that by doing so we all learn to be more careful with our nature and environment.

Were you scared when you were barking in front of the camera with the seven-month-old lion?

Lions, of course, are more difficult to turn than elephants, which are relatively easy to approach in the wild without being bitten or bitten bloody. A seven month old lion is definitely too old to play with him anymore. The little lioness caught me with the paw and immediately I had a big bloodstain on my shirt. I think it is absolutely absurd what the 200 lion breeders are doing in South Africa. Their business is just as criminal as our circuses or zoos with far too small enclosures. Zoos can be a great way to get some species. My interest in animals probably comes from the fact that my grandfather took me to the zoo every Sunday. Dolphins, lions, tigers and elephants, however, can not be kept in an appropriate way in any zoo in the world. Certain animal species have simply lost nothing at the zoo.

Toys for the Lions: With the volunteers Erika and Lisette Hannes throws cardboard boxes into the lion enclosure. They are filled with straw - the lions bite them and are busy for a short time.

Which animal has impressed you most in the past few years?

The shooting of our film about sharks was probably the most exciting. Sharks have a miserable image. We are all afraid of them and kill them faster than any other animal in the world. It is a completely harmless fish. He only bites when man makes mistakes. For example, when he goes into heavy water after heavy rain. Or, when fish waste is fed to attract sharks. A shark is not interested in people in principle. The shark is the most important animal in the marine food chain. He ensures the balance in the ocean.

So you were not afraid of the sharks?

You bet! I almost fell into the bathing suit in fear. But once we were in the water with our cameras, I realized that sharks are about as dangerous as goldfish. My whole team swam with hundreds of sharks, and they ignored us as much as possible. We are not on their menu.

What are the security measures should something happen when shooting an animal?

We always have specialists with us. And we adhere strictly to their announcements. The lions on the farm were habituated, so used to humans, big cats. André Sarrasani lived together for a long time with two circus tigers, which he had inherited. They are no different than normal domestic cats: they lie on their backs and want to be scratched. It does not have much to do with a wild animal.

But an animal still has its instinct ...

My own cats have already scratched me bloody. I brought my second hangover out of the shelter two years ago. At first he bit me, not a single eye remained dry.

What surprised you most when shooting with the lions?

The fact that lions do not behave any differently than my two cats do at home. They lie on their backs, like to sleep and play, play, eat and are exceptionally social. Lions are actually just oversized domestic cats. You can not say that about tigers, leopards and jaguars. These are all solitary cats, which unlike lions do not live in packs.

How far would you go for a good animal movie? Are there limits?

Yes. I would never go on foot in an area where lions are bustling. I would not get out of the car in the Serengeti to get closer to the lions. And when people can be dangerous to us, we work with hidden cameras. When shooting on the illegal animal market in Jakarta, we knew that it was better not to fly up. The Animal Mafia kills people who come to terms with them. My team and I are careful - but not cowardly either.

What do you say to people who reproach you with the importance of saving people rather than animals?

You can not separate one from the other. That would be naive. Animal welfare is always environmental protection and therefore human protection. The people who pay for the destruction of the environment are always the poorest of the poor. When sea levels rise, countries like Bangladesh first drown. Anyone who rescues the rainforest in Borneo with its orangutans saves the existence of the people who have been living in and from the forest for millennia.

They are also an advocate of fair trade and fair products, such as clothing. If you are referring to Hartz IV in Germany, you can not afford a fair garment, but you have to go to kik ...

That's wrong. It would be better to spend a little more money on quality that lasts as long as possible. There are good and correctly produced brands that are not expensive. I've been wearing some of my t-shirts for 20 years. I buy Levi's jeans because I know they last ten years. I do not have to buy new jeans several times a year. It is shortsighted to always buy the cheapest. This is the typical way of thinking of disposable consumption. This Hartz IV discussion seems to me questionable anyway. It's always a matter of priorities. Surprisingly, many of these people have the latest cell phone or the most modern TV ... There are many ways to save money. You can shop at Oxfam, buy used things or swap things. Repair cafes are also a great facility.

With your attitude, you also play. Do you sometimes find this irritation tiring?

I think the others find it more exhausting than I am. I also bring my own cup for catering because it gets annoying when thousands of plastic cups are consumed during a movie shoot. I do not eat cardboard and plastic plates. If the others still laugh - I do not care (laughs).

Does it bother you to be called a do-gooder?

That's not me. What is that supposed to be? Interestingly, this term exists exclusively in German. Nobody gets upset about the bad people, but the do-gooder is a challenge. Such statements must be ignored.

Is this ignoring easy for you?

When "FAZ, " "Stern, " and "Spiegel" started shouting at me, I was disappointed and wondered why they did it. Meanwhile, I know what I can do with my films. That's the only thing that interests me. When thousands of German viewers donate to something useful that they had no idea before, I've achieved exactly what I wanted. Should the "mirror" write what he wants.

Do you consider yourself a celebrity you can touch - or are you more aloof?

I think I'm basically more touchable. The only thing I keep a little under wraps is my private life. I once had a public relationship - I do not have to do that again. One should separate work and private life. The reason why people talk to you is not because you're such an amazing person, but because you're on TV. It has nothing to do with you as a human. As far as my job is concerned, I am very open - I keep my private life largely under wraps.

How does your friend support you in your actions?

She comes from a very nature-loving family. Her parents are from the classic hippie generation. In that sense, we are both on a similar wavelength. She does not ask: "Why are you leaving again, saving animals and leaving me alone?" - she rather asks: "Why do not you take me with you?" Unfortunately, she only has two weeks vacation per year, which must be divided very precisely, Otherwise I would like to take her to shoot more often.

What is luck for you?

Happiness is a combination of preparation and opportunity. You can not force happiness. You have to behave in a way that comes to you and finds you. There you are very fast at karma. The Buddhist teachings are very clear to me: empathy, taking care of each other and being there for each other.

Which animal documentation do you want to shoot next?

We make this decision together with the broadcaster. For years, we have a finished book on marine mammals in the drawer. About marine animals can tell an incredible amount. Otherwise, I would be interested in all primates and big cats. A movie about dying bird species would also be interesting. There, the illegal trade is a massive problem, and there are hardly any films about it. A South American free-living parrot, of which there are only 2000 pieces, goes for half a million dollars over the table. The topics will not go out.

Do you enjoy making such a documentary more than, for example, being in front of the camera in the role of Franz Beckenbauer?

No. One is leisure time - the other is work. And both of them are tremendously fun.

What happens if Franz Beckenbauer does not find you funny?

Then I will say to him: "Franz, you were my youth idol - I'm sorry that I failed in the presentation of your person!" No matter how Beckenbauer is involved with the Fifa and the corruption there, I admire Franz Beckenbauer. He has achieved more than any other footballer in the world.

Your wish to the universe?

I want more empathy in the world, less consumerism, and a little bit more care about our planet. Gandhi once said, "Be the change you want to see." I think that each one of us can do something.

Interview: Christine Staab for BAUER STARS & STORIES
Photos: Michael de Boer / action press for Bauer Stars & Stories

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