recently captured some uncanny footage at the Modisa Wildlife Project in Maun, Botswana. Hawkins witnessed a heartwarming moment with Sirga the lioness, who was exiled from her pride as a cub and rescued by conservationists Valentin Gruener and Mikkel Legarth.
In this candid footage, Sirga is shown displaying some wild emotions and a lot of appreciation for Gruener, including lunging, cuddling, and play-fighting. She weighs 110 pounds, and you can see that she is almost the same height as her rescuer.
Now, insert flashback here. Remember Christian the lion? This domesticated, oversized feline lived in London throughout the 1960s after being purchased by John Rendall and Anthony Bourke. It was later released into the wild in Kenya because it had outgrown the living space of its former owners. After a year, Christian was reunited with the two men. The reunion was captured in a documentary, and that moment in the film became a world-famous clip on YouTube.
All of these men, brave and kind as they are, definitely have a connection with these animals and were able to earn their trust since they were cubs. But do they have the gall and guile to hug other lions in the African wild? That remains to be seen, and the footage just might trump the cute hugs bestowed by Sirga and Christian.