Researchers at Gir National Park, Gujarat, India, documented a rare case of cross-species adoption, that will leave even the most faithful animal lover speechless.
Stotra Chakrabarti, a postdoctoral researcher and his team from the University of Minnesota, spotted a lioness mom nurturing a tiny leopard cub as if he was her own. The fact that lions and leopards are notorious enemies, who regularly fight over territory and food, makes the mother-lion and leopard son’s bond even more unique.
The mother lioness clearly chose to put all hostility aside. She nurtured the helpless leopard cub just like her other two cubs, who were of the same age.
After following the lioness and her diverse family closely for a few months, Chakrabarti and his team concluded that the mother didn’t differentiate between her cubs and the leopard. The sweet baby leopard was even seen naturally playing with his sibling cubs.
Dr. Chakrabarti who has been studying lions in the park for more than seven years described the unusual inter-species adoption as “the most ‘wow’ moment” he had ever come across.
Unfortunately, we later came to learn that after spending two months under the lioness’ warm and tender care, the poor leopard cub sadly passed away. The park rangers found him dead, presumably by natural causes. Chakrabarti later said: “It would have been fantastic to see, when the leopard cub grew up, how things would be, but it didn’t happen”.
Despite its dire ending, the story still shows how even in the cruel and brutal reality of wild animals, some still manage to find ways to help the weak and vulnerable.
Watch the baby leopard adorably playing with his brothers in the video below: