If cute dog videos are the pinnacle of adorable on the internet, what happens when you add a baby lion to the equation?
Back in 2014, a male lion cub was born at a zoo in Sri Lanka, but sadly, the cub’s mother rejected him. Zookeepers were concerned, of course. They wanted to ensure the baby lion grew strong and felt love while doing so, and since a dog’s love is, arguably, the best love, they decided to try and incorporate him into a newborn family of pups..
At first, his potential new mom was not interested, but, said the dog’s owner, Heshan Mendis, it only took a short time for her maternal instincts to warm her over.
“After five, six hours, the dog changed, and she treated the lion cub as her own pup,” he said. “She licked him and she loves the lion cub more than her pups.”
In the above video, shared by BBC News, Mendis’ sweet dog tenderly nurses the baby lion along with her own biological brood of pups. She did so for three weeks, and the cub was welcomed into the fold by the puppies, too. They all played together like a natural litter and the little lion was a welcome playmate.
Naturally, as the lion grew, he needed to find a more suitable home. He was first relocated to a zoo, and then a sanctuary and today is a beautiful, full grown lion, no longer the tiny furball that Mendis welcomed into his home for a time. The lion, however, never forgot him – and Mendis still visits, and enjoys petting his old friend.
Animal experts say that there are a multitude of reasons why a lioness might reject or abandon a cub. One could be that she doesn’t have enough milk or may favor a stronger cub over another. In rare instances, lions may reject a cub that has been overly handled by humans.
For this once-little lion’s sake, it’s good that a dog mom’s love is so vast, she can share it with other babies, too.