Lioness Seen Adopting Leopard Cub

Zambia Partially Lifts Ban On Safari Hunting

Recently a wild lioness was seen suckling a leopard cub in a Tanzanian wildlife sanctuary. This is the first time such animal behaviour has ever been observed. Whilst certain big cats such as lions have been seen adopting and nursing other cubs of their own species, usually the kin of their relatives, seeing a cross species adoption is without precedent. Luke Hunter who is an expert on lions says he has never seen anything like it. The photos were taken earlier in the month by tourists with the leopard cub estimated to be roughly 3 weeks old.

Lioness part of a scientific study

The lioness who adopted the cub is 5 years old and wears a GPS collar and is being monitored for scientific purposes. The lioness gave birth to a litter of cubs at the end of last month so the leopard cub is about the same age as her own cubs says Mr Hunter. It is not known how the leopard cub came to be with the lioness, but it is clear the lioness is awash in maternal hormones and most likely adopted the leopard cub as one of her own adds Mr Hunter. When the photo was taken, the lion cubs were hidden back at her den site.

The pride will not recognise the leopard

The obvious question is what will become of this interspecies adoption? Since it is without precedent no one can say for sure. Mr Hunter adds that even for lion cubs when they are young, they face many difficulties without only half of all cubs making it to 1 year of age. As lion cubs mature, they go through a transitional period where they get recognised as part of the pride. However, in this case it is highly unlikely that the other lions would recognise the leopard as one of their own.

Unlikely the leopard cub will reach maturity

Mr Hunter believes the odds of the leopard making it into adulthood are stacked against it, but he does have some hope. He says he is speculating that if the cub can reach 12 to 14 months in age, its instinct will probably kick in and it will go off on its own and seek out other leopards. Mr Hunter does not think the leopard will stay with the pride and live its life as a lion.

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One Response to “Lioness Seen Adopting Leopard Cub”

  1. Jake Hale says:

    Love to all the animals.

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