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Updated Nov 14, 2012 - 7:30 am

Kingman sanctuary houses animal odd couple

Anthony the Lion

It's "Wild Kingdom's" version of the "Odd Couple."

Two wild predators are finding they can't live without each other at a wild animal sanctuary in northwest Arizona.

He is Anthony the lion, she is Riley the coyote. Both were less than five weeks old when they were rescued nearly two years ago by the Keepers of the Wild animal sanctuary in Valentine, near Kingman.

The two animals were recently featured in a PBS nature special called "Animal Odd Couples." They are about to be featured on a Canadian Kids TV show called "Toc Toc Toc," and in an upcoming film about animal sanctuaries.

"Since they were both very, very small and we really couldn't put them in a habitat, we kind of raised them in our house, which is located in the middle of our sanctuary," said Jonathan Kraft, the sanctuary's founder. "They stayed in the house for about three months and really bonded with each other."

The sanctuary tried to separate the two. It didn't work.

"He (the lion) would go absolutely crazy, almost hurting himself," Kraft said. "The coyote was going absolutely crazy and howl all day and all night. They have been absolutely inseparable since."

Now they live together in a large natural habitat. Kraft said Riley appears to have no interest in any of the coyotes that she can hear howling nearby.

There is another lion in the next habitat. When it comes to the fence, Riley the coyote stands between Anthony and the other lion, and appears to be defending Anthony.

Anthony is 350 pounds, while Riley weighs in at about 25. But that doesn't seem to matter.

"They play with each other all day," Kraft said. "If you're looking for one, just look for the other, and you'll find them within five six, seven feet from each other. They sleep together, they chase each other. When we give them little snacks, she steals the food right out of his mouth."

Kraft said the lion has never hurt the coyote, and, in fact, Riley is the one who is in control. He said that because the coyote has been around cats all of her life, he has speculated that she may think she is a cat.

Related Links
Keepers of the Wild wolves and coyotes gallery
Keepers of the Wild gallery

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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