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Lions interrupt 60 Minutes interview

While filming a couple who saves circus animals from abuse, a 60 Minutes team learns that lions have a vocal morning song

At a temporary rescue center just north of Cuzco, Peru, Jan Creamer and Tim Phillips were keeping 24 lions safe from the abuse they had undergone as circus performers. Correspondent Bill Whitaker and a film crew were there to interview the couple for a 60 Minutes story about how the couple’s work has led to bans on using wild animals in circuses in more than 20 countries.  


But shooting this week’s 60 Minutes piece proved trickier than usual. The only time the crew could shoot the interview happened to be right before the lions’ morning feeding time, a time when the cats are active -- and loud.


The lions roar a loud “morning song” before their daily feeding during a 60 Minutes interview.

CBS News

“This is their morning song,” Creamer tries to explain over the roaring in the clip above. “They like to greet the day letting any other lions who might be around know that they’re here, and that this is their territory.”

In this isolated Peruvian location, no other lions were roaming nearby. But the instinct was there, and these lions -- brought together from different traveling circuses -- wanted to make sure everyone else knew they were proud of their pride. 

“This is their morning song,” Jan Creamer tries to explain over the roaring. “They like to greet the day.”

“We’ve noticed that when we bring them all together, they become one,” Creamer says. “So they’re making a statement.”

That wasn’t the only statement they made. The crew was told to watch out for one particularly playful lion, especially if they saw him lift his tail. He has good aim, the crew was warned.


Such good aim, in fact, that he urinated all over cameraman Mark LaGanga’s equipment.

“They’re incredibly social animals, the lions,” Phillips says. “People forget that. Every time you see in a zoo or a circus this solitary lion, he’s missing out on this part of his life. They live in big, family groups. They talk to each other.”