Feline good! The fully grown lion that Man rescued from a sickly cub as a cuddle gives him a warm morning hug

  • Valentin Gruener, a conservationist, is like a father for nine-year old lion Sirga
  • When she was left by her mother, her sickly cub had been abandoned in 2012. He saved her.
  • They can walk, swim and wrestle at Modisa Wildlife Project Botswana 
  • Valentin co-founded it to preserve 7,500 hectares for wildlife.
  • Valentin stated that she does indeed rub her head on my neck a lot like a domestic cat.

It’s good to start the day with a hug – but not many would choose to share their display of affection with a fully grown lion.

Valentin Gruener, a conservationist, is like a father to Sirga (9 years old). 

After her mother abandoned her, she became sickly and he rescued her. The pair has since formed an amazing bond.

Together they walk, wrestle, and swim at Modisa Wildlife Project, Botswana, where Sirga lives alongside German Valentin (34), and Sarah (33)

“I suppose Sirga considers me a best friend. 

“She is a huge hugger. Valentin stated that she does rub her head on my neck a lot like a domestic cat. 

Although Sirga is not aggressive towards me, I admire her power. 

I know she’s aware of my differences.

Apex predator Sirga has known Valentin Gruener her whole life since he began raising her after she was rejected by her mother

Apex predator Sirga knows Valentin Gruener all her life, since he started raising her after her mother rejected her.

After her parents were taken prisoner, the nine-year old African queen of jungle was moved to rehabilitation camp where she had been killed.

Sirga lost her mother, and was at risk of starvation without Valentin.

For almost a decade, man and cat have shared an inextricable bond.

Sirga said that Valentin’s feline greeting of head rub is so familiar to him, it had given him a cauliflower ear. 

Valentin founded the Modisa Wildlife Project in order to conserve 7,500 hectares of land for local wildlife. 

You can also stay at the hotel to enjoy the African bush.

They walk, play wrestle and even swim together at the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana where Sirga lives with German Valentin, 34, and his partner Sarah, 33.

Together they walk, wrestle, and swim at Modisa Wildlife Project, Botswana, where Sirga lives alongside German Valentin (34), and Sarah (33) 

Valentin stated, “I think Sirga sees me as her best friend.” She doesn’t see me as an anther Lion, but she does view me simply as her best friend who she has spent the past 10 years with.

Sirga is a lover of being outdoors on her 2,000-hectares. She hunts alongside me but her favorite part is the silent stalking and chase.

Sirga is often too close to it and she simply follows up on them, while we watch and wait. That’s her favorite time of day I believe.

“She loves to get up on her hind legs, give me big hugs every single time she sees me,”

Valentin added: “Sirga moves freely in her environment and behaves like any wild animal lion. She hunts, and I kind of follow her.

Sirga's mother stopped feeding her and she faced certain death without Valentin's help. Almost a decade on both man and big cat share an unbreakable bond.

Sirga was starved by her mother and faced death without Valentin. Nearly a decade later, both big cat and man share an inextricable bond.

“Of course I can’t chase an antelope and kill it, but lions hunt in prides so she may need some assistance when she is catching larger prey. She cannot keep it from her back and reach the throat to get it killed.

“To stop the suffering, I simply cut her throat while she held it down.

She is used not only to teach people about lions, but about all wildlife and conservation.

“Her social media following is growing and I’m able to get more information to those who can’t visit her here. I also do a podcast called The Kalahari Diaries about the Kalahari. In which I highlight conservation issues in Southern Africa in an informative but entertaining way.