Animals never forget those who treat them with kindness. No matter the size or ferocity of a creature, they are still grateful to those who care for them. This story is proof of that gratefulness. Although dogs are known as man’s best friend, in the case of Valentin Gruener, he might disagree with this saying. This wildlife enthusiast is friends with one of the most extraordinary of creatures, one that we would not even think of befriending.
His best friend is none other than a lioness called Sirga. The human and the lioness share a very deep connection to an extent where they leap at each other every single time they meet. Fortunately for us, someone managed to capture this special moment on camera and the footage went viral soon after it was shared on TikTok. Although Sirga is gentle and friendly in the presence of Valentin, he doesn’t encourage people to interact with the lioness.
Since Valentin is the only person interacting with Sirga and because she isn’t used to other people, it would be dangerous for others to befriend her. If someone were to ask the lioness who her favorite human was, she would definitely reply saying “Valentin”. Their friendship began more than 10 years ago in 2012 when the lioness was neglected by her own mother and needed to be hand-raised.
The video containing the interactions between the human and the lioness depict how excited Sirga gets when she meets Valentin. She also doesn’t forget to greet him with warm hugs.
Sirga is one of the only cubs that survived the early days. Since her mother refused to feed her, Valentin stepped in to take care of the adorable lion cub. This is how a friendship began to develop between the two.
From the time Sirga was a cub, she began to hug her human caregiver. This habit continued throughout time. As the cub grew older, the bond that she and Valentin shared only became stronger.
Currently, Sirga is hanging out with Valentin in the 2000-hectare reserve solely belonging to her. It is here that she relaxes in the shade, walks around, and cuddles with her loving human.
This friendship was not only beneficial for Sirga but was also transformative for Valentin as well. Taking care of the lioness made him realize what it really meant to be there for another being. Although Valentin has loved animals his whole life, caring for Sirga changed his life forever. His statement, “I will continue to be by her side and to fight for the survival of her wild relatives for as long as I live”, is proof of the beautiful bond that the human and lioness share.