Touching video: Rescued lioness hugs her human savior

A lion on a reserve in Botswana is released from her enclosure and runs into a waiting man's arms. For a moment, the tension buzzes in the desert air. The entire story of these two friends is as magical and moving as this moment suggests:

Valentin Gruener of Germany has loved cats since childhood. It started with saving injured critters and animals in need...

At the same time, he had wanderlust and became quite a traveler: first to Canada where he worked on the oil fields. But soon his passion for big cats drew him in another direction, toward the African continent. 

Here he met Mikkel Legarth, a young man from Denmark with the same fascination for these gorgeous, dangerous predators. Together they founded the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana, a site for preserving the wildlife of the region and its habitat.

Soon after this came a fateful encounter: they observed an incident near their station where two male lion cubs were killed by the pride and a third cub was left behind to starve. They didn't hesitate, rushing to help the surviving baby. 

Together they brought the lion cub home and raised her. They called her Sirga. From the beginning they were determined to return her to the wild, so she it was important that she wouldn't grow up like other animals in lifelong captivity.

Valentin and Mikkel were the only people she had contact with. Sirga wasn't going to get used to humans because it would make her return to the wild much more difficult.

She got to know the real wilderness, hunting and killing antelope as a lioness should.

Sirga was incredibly lucky that Valentin and Mikkel happened upon her that particular day. They didn't just save her life, but they also made sure that she would later be able to live a real life in the wild of her home country.

The friendship and gratitude she shows her foster parent in this video is simply gorgeous. It's impossible not to find it heartwarming! Two people living their dream — and making the world a better place, one animal at a time...

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