They say there is nothing like a mother's love. But who says that love literally must come from a mother? Why not a 27-year-old German conservationist named Valentin Gruener? For one lioness in Botswana, Gruener is the only mother she has ever known. And for all intents and purposes, the gig has worked out pretty well for both of them.
Abandoned by her pride as a cub a few years back, Sirga's journey started when Gruener and another conservationist were granted permission to rear the (little) big cat. The bond between Sirga and Gruener was immense, as millions witnessed in a viral YouTube video of the lion — no longer a cub — jumping up to hug her favorite human.
But the story of Sirga didn't end with her rescue. A lion needs to hunt. And who better to teach her how than Gruener?
The adorable duo let a camera crew tag along for the hunting lessons, and the footage is being compiled into a documentary. From Gruener crouching in muddy water to teach Sirga how to stalk her prey, to the moment the proud lioness catches a fat toad all on her own, the film is much more than a tale about two buddies running around the African bush.
Deep down, it just might be about a mother's love, in a rather non-traditional sense—which, in the end, makes a lot more sense than you might have guessed.