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Referencing a series of 1970s photographs — which included a photo of Johnson’s mother, Griffith, with a 400 lbs. lion named Neal — host Norton asked whether Johnson also grew up with the animals.
“By the time I was born they were all in huge compounds and it was a lot safer,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t as totally psycho as it was when they first started.”
Hedren has since expressed regret over the images, saying it was “stupid beyond belief” to let the animals roam free.
Hedren, who starred in the classic Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds, began rescuing exotic cats back in 1971, and went on to found the Roar Foundation in 1983 in order to “educate the public about the dangers of private ownership of exotic animals.” The non-profit exists to support her animal sanctuary, Shambala Preserve, located in California, where the actress lives.
"I’ve been an advocate of animals everywhere," the actress told Variety in a 2016 interview. "I made two films in Africa in the 1960s and early '70s, and at the time environmentalists were telling us that if we didn’t do something right then to save the animals in the wild by the year 2000, they’d be gone."
Hedren’s big cats have also made appearances on Griffith’s Instagram account. “Easter with my Mama,” Griffith wrote in 2018 alongside a photograph of Hedren with one of her tigers at the sanctuary.
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