Friendship knows no boundaries, regardless of language, culture, geography, or even species.
While most pet owners extol the virtues of dogs and cats as man’s greatest friends, Valentin Gruener, a wildlife enthusiast, has a companion of a different kind, one that would likely paralyze many with dread if she ever opened her lips to say “Hello!”
Val may confidently state that his closest companion is a lion named Sirga.
Their particular relationship is so strong that they leap at each other whenever they see each other.
Someone managed to capture these touching interactions, and it became viral on TikTok for all the right reasons.
Sirga, according to Val, is one of the gentlest lions around, yet befriending her might have terrible consequences: “she is always gentle and loving despite her size.”
But I’m the only one that interacts with her. It would be risky for those she is unfamiliar with.”
Meet the sweet lioness Sirga and Valentin, her favorite human and carer.
Here’s how Val recalls their acquaintance’s story.
“It started ten years ago when Sirga’s mother stopped feeding her and I had to raise her by myself.”
Their TikTok collection of mutual hugs just went viral. Many scenes in the video show Sirga joyfully meeting Valentin. Sirga’s living conditions were terrible at the beginning.
“On February 25, 2012, Sirga the lioness was born to wild lions captured after being identified as ‘problem animals’ in livestock areas, who were held and cared for at the property of Grassland Bushman Lodge grounds, near Ghanzi, in the Kalahari Desert of Botswana, owned by Willie de Graaff, a cattle rancher and wildlife enthusiast.”
Valentin started caring for her after her mother refused to feed her.
During this period, the Sirga developed the habit of embracing Valentin. They met ten years ago and their relationship has grown by leaps and bounds since then.
Sirga and Valentin now relax at the 2000-acre reserve set aside for her. Sirga, on the other hand, now has her own domain to govern. Her realm is calm and free of violence.
“Today, she lives in a 2000-hectare reserve created just for her, where she may hunt and live as freely as possible given her conditions.” I am still available to her on a daily basis. I live in the midst of the wilderness in Botswana with Sirga.”
The experience of caring for Sirga, according to Valentin Grüner, was profoundly transforming for him as a human. “I’ve always had a soft spot for animals, but Sirga altered my life forever.”
Being responsible for her continues to educate me on what it is to truly be present for another being on a daily basis. I shall remain at her side and fight for the survival of her wild cousins for the rest of my life.”
For him, the key to caring for such a powerful, large, and wild animal is “a lot of love and time.” My partner also contributes significantly to the care of the other animals. But I haven’t taken a vacation in the last 12 years – no regrets.”