All cats, regardless of their size, enjoy cuddles. And according to a recent viral TikTok video, this applies to big jungle cats as well. A while back, animal enthusiast Valentin Gruener started sharing videos on social media that show him sharing hugs with Sirga, a lioness he took care of since she was a cub. Each time Gruener comes to check up on Sirga, the big cat races to his arms.
This became unintentionally our signature move 👣🐾♬ original sound – Avery Lafon
The videos quickly became popular among internet users, prompting Gruener to reveal a heartwarming story about how they actually met in a recent interview with NBC News.
According to Gruener, he first met Sirga 10 years ago in one of Botswana’s rehabilitation camps. Sirga’s mother refused to feed her, and someone had to make sure the tiny lion cub received proper care. Gruener took the task upon himself, and the two quickly developed a strong bond.
Even as Sirga grew bigger and stronger, Gruener didn’t abandon his task, and the same remains today. The lioness now lives in a big fenced reserve made just for her, with Gruener residing in a house that’s located nearby. He visits her on a daily basis, and their every encounter is followed by a hug exchange.
Sirga doing her thing before going on a walk in the Kalahari #wildliferescue #bigcat #catsoftiktok♬ Originalton – Val Gruener & Sirga
“Sirga is amazingly gentle for a very large cat. When I go to see her, she always hugs me like in that video,” Gruene revealed. “I think overall she’s got a very friendly and gentle personality for a lion.”
Check out more of their adorable encounters below.
Someones in a good mood today! #catsoftiktok♬ La Vie En Rose – Emily Watts
Good morning from the Kalahari, Botswana! #catsoftiktok #bigcat♬ Epic Emotional – AShamaluevMusic
I guess that’s our morning routine #lionfluencer #animalsoftiktok♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) – Danilo Stankovic
Sirga doesn‘t understand the concept of social distancing. Luckily, she doesn‘t have to. #tiktokwildlifeday♬ Oh No I Hope I Don’t Fall… – IndieHay