Photos of a lion nursing a leopard cub in the wild have taken the world by storm.
According to Agnes Maluleke, a curator at the Johannesburg Zoo, the lion feeding a baby of another species is very unusual and has possibly never been seen in the wild before.
She said the situation was unusual, as it seems as though the lion’s maternal instinct overpowered her killing instinct.
“I suppose what happened is this lioness saw a baby leopard and realised: if I don’t take care of it, it will die. So the natural instinct of having to kill the baby leopard just completely went out of her head and the maternal instinct kicked in and she saw a baby that she needs to feed.
“I don’t know how long that is going to last, whether she is going to feed this baby leopard until it grows older or she will start to realise this is actually not supposed to be one of the animals she should take care off. I don’t know what the future holds. I suppose [by] monitoring for a long time [they] will see what is going to happen in the future,” Maluleke said.
The pictures were taken in the Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania, and is the first photographic evidence of predators bonding in the wild.
According to Luke Hunter, president of a wild cat conservation group called Panthera, this incident has never been recorded before.
“There is no other recorded case where a big cat in the wild has suckled a cub belonging to another species,” Hunter told Reuters.
The lioness is known by locals as Nosikitok and is monitored by conservation group KopeLion via a radio collar.
Nosikitok has three of her own cubs, who were in a den near to where she was snapped suckling the leopard cub. It is not clear where the leopard cub’s mother is.