Dean Schneider – The Real Life Tarzan
When most people watch animal documentaries, the last thing they think of doing is taking the bold step to going to protect the endangered species. Well, as it turns out, Dean Schneider is not like most people, and rightfully so.
At just 27 years old, Dean has found his passion and dropped everything to pursue it, something, not most people would be eager to do.
Imagine moving from the palm of luxury and freedom in Switzerland to the heart of the African Savannah, wild right?
That’s exactly how Dean likes to be known.
Love For The Wildlife
His love for wildlife started at the tender age of six through the legendary Steve Irwin and to him, NatGeo wasn’t just for entertainment.
Steve Irwin aka ‘the crocodile hunter’ is a legendary Swiss environmentalist and wildlife expert who died in 2006 doing what he loved.
Steve brought wildlife education right to Dean’s living room where he got his first exposure to the different animal species.
Dean was born on October 3, 1992, in Switzerland (Zurich). He was the last born in a family of four with one older sister and supportive parents. His father is a Swiss citizen while his mother is originally from the Balkan region of Southeastern Europe.
Before following his passion, Dean like every other young adult followed the conventional career path and landed in the financial industry.
He was employed as a financial advisor for a year before branching out to start his own firm which he ran for another three years.
In the three years, the entrepreneur had grown a large company of about fifty employees.
Despite dropping that career for the wildlife conservation, the skills he garnered being a financial advisor helped him to set the financial groundwork for his conservancy project.
This he did by constantly flying to the motherland and getting insights, creating the plan and eventually getting donor support.
At the age of 23, Dean dropped his exclusive life and well-paying job in Switzerland sold all his belongings and relocated to South Africa to launch his Hakuna Mipaka project.
Hakuna Mipaka is Swahili and means ‘’No Limits’’. Dean started the Hakuna Mipaka project to cater to lions born in captivity. According to him, Hakuna Mipaka is a way of living which originated from the five core values – freedom, loyalty, appreciation, brotherhood, and boldness.”
The Hakuna Mipaka Oasis is spread over the 400-hectare estate. It also has a separate area for other wild animals, such as impalas, kudus, zebras, hyenas, baboons, and many others. They also do rehabilitation programs with different animals, which are then being released back into the wild.
The Oasis is a private sanctuary and is not open to tourist visits and breeding activities. Dean says he built the place for animals and not for humans. He provides these animals with an opportunity to live in freedom.
Dean believes, “We need to learn to love them exactly the way they are and not the way we wish them to be!”
As regards Schneider’s mission, he says, “My mission is to reach as many people as possible and educate them about the wildlife and the beauty of the animal kingdom.
I believe in the power of knowledge, passion and visual stories in order to change people’s perceptions and save wildlife.”
Dean Schneider is not a new name around the social media world. Just to give you a visual, he has about 3.9 million followers worldwide, and that’s on Instagram alone.
A video of him going back to Hakuna mipaka and a lion running towards him for an embrace made rounds on social media a few months ago and he instantly became an internet sensation.
You can truly see the change he is making on these animals’ lives and it is nothing short of inspirational and tear-jerking.