Lion Does the Most Unexpected Thing When Someone Unlocks Her Cage

Do animals have the cognitive building blocks required for them to feel and demonstrate gratitude? I don’t know. It may still be an open question, but this heartwarming video of a lion sure makes me believe they do.

While visiting some friends over at the Modisa Wildlife Project in Maun, Botswana, travel blogger John Hawkins had one of the “best experiences” of his life when the lion, named Sirga, was released from her cage.

Since birth, Sirga had been raised by caretaker Valentin Gruener, and the two of them built a bond unlike no other. When he frees her from the enclosure, he is greeted with an embrace similar to the one someone would give a loved one they hadn’t seen in ages.

In a way, it’s one of the most unexpected things the animal could do, especially considering how potentially deadly and unpredictable she could be.

But at the end of the day, lions are just big kitties — big kitties that do the same things as little kitties. And this one just wanted to show some love to the guy who raised her. Headbutts and all.

“I love animals so much, seeing this made me so happy,” Hawkins says.

The majesty of nature will never cease to amaze me.