On a recent visit to the Modisa Wildlife Project near Maun, Botswana, traveller John Hawkins captured this heartwarming footage that shows the incredible bond between a lioness and her rescuer. In the video, Sirga can be seen eagerly pacing back and forth behind a fence as the man, Valentin Gruener, unlocks the gate. Once the gate is opened, the 110-pound lioness jumps onto Gruener–for a cuddly, full-body embrace! Sirga clearly displays her affection for the man, rubbing noses with him during the hug and even laying across his lap on the ground. What an amazing friendship!
After Sirga was driven out of her pride as a cub, she was rescued by Gruener and Mikkel Legarth, who couldn't stand by and watch her die. The two conservationists took her in, raised her, and even taught her how to hunt on her own. Throughout the years, Sirga has never forgotten her bond with the men who helped her. She now serves as a beacon of success for the Modisa Wildlife Project, which Gruener and Legarth started with the hope of finding long-term solutions for saving the lion population in Botswana, Africa.