The very idea of a lion pouncing directly at us is usually enough to cause a major freakout, but as you’ll see in this adorable video, it all depends on how you treat the lion. And we realize that “adorable” is not an adjective generally used to describe lion-human interaction — but just spend a few brief moments with this video and you’ll see what we mean.
The video was shot recently at a wildlife preserve, the Modisa Wildlife Project, in the African country of Botswana. The guy who took it, a vacationing teacher named Jonathan Hawkins, declared on his YouTube page, “This is one of the best experiences of my life! I love animals so much, seeing this made me so happy.”
The lucky human being who has become the BFF of this lioness, Sirga, is Valentin Gruener, who has been responsible for bringing up the loving lioness since she was a cub — and who co-founded the preserve, dedicated to maintaining natural habitats for big cats, in 2009.
Gruener partnered with the Grassland Safari Lodge, which, “started their conservation work by capturing lions and other big cats in conflict with farmers to spare them from certain death,” he told The Daily Mail newspaper.
He has obviously done a great job with Sirga, who as you’ll see, can’t wait to greet him. But apparently this lion greeting is a familiar one by now. “It’s just her way of saying hello,” Gruener said.