Gentle lioness can’t stop hugging the man who rescued her 10 years ago

It’s been 10 years now, but this incredibly fortunate man still gets to wake up every morning and cuddle up to his enormous furry friend: a lioness who was saved by him when she was just a few days old. These two have been together ever since, demonstrating that love is a universal language understood by all, including animals.

Valentin Gruener

Valentin Gruener, a conservationist, recently released a video of his morning encounter with a lioness that he captured and uploaded to YouTube. Because of the touching footage, it’s no surprise that it became viral on the internet.

“Sirga thinks of me as a best friend. She loves to give me a big hug,” Gruener said. “She does rub her head on mine a lot, just like a domestic cat. Sirga has never been aggressive towards me but I have a huge respect for what she is. I am sure she is aware that I am very different.”

Valentin Gruener

The first time Gruener and Sirga met was in 2012, and the circumstances were less than ideal. Gruener discovered the now-mighty lioness just a few days after she was born. She was born in a rehabilitation center, but her mother quickly rejected her, and she was the only one to live. Her first stop was at the Modisa Animals Project, which Gruener co-founded in Botswana for the conservation of wildlife. It was there that they first formed a strong bond of friendship.

Valentin Gruener

“For such a huge cat, Sirga is surprisingly friendly. She usually gives me a big hug when I visit her, “Grueser added. To put it another way, “She has a very friendly and gentle personality for a lion.”

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