An unlikely adoption-success story involving a three-legged lion and a labrador has taken place in a zoo and is continuing even though the lion is now much bigger than its dog mother.
The event played out at Irkutsk Zoo in Russia where labrador Elsa ended up as the role model for the three-legged lion cub called Fortis.
The lion cub was injured early on in the paw which resulted in amputation, and zoo staff realised they needed to find a way to help it to keep warm for several hours a day.
That was when they came up with the idea of using the dog, which at the time was only slightly older than the lion cub but nevertheless stepped in to mother Fortis.
Fortunately, they got on famously right from the start, and have been inseparable ever since. Fortis also learned how to eat and do many things from his adoptive mother.
And building on that success, the zoo then decided to add to the patchwork family tiger cubs, when Lavender and Liana arrived from Vladivostok zoo.
All of the big cats are now very big cats, and much larger than their dog mother, but they still respect the fact that mum is the boss even today.
The lions and tigers are two years old, and although fully grown and technically it makes the equivalent of teenagers, Elsa still manages to keep them in order.
This is the cute moment a three-legged lion cub frolics with his new labrador puppy pal with the two reportedly inseparable.
Zoo director, Lyudmila Ivushkina, said: “Elsa considers herself a mother only for her beloved lion cub, but she is also there for the tiger cubs to keep them under control, and she does not allow them any liberties regarding herself or Fortis. That means they can’t take away his food, and she doesn’t allow anyone to bite him, and he is very protective of him and the pair of them are completely inseparable.”
Irkutsk Zoo was established in 1989 and as well as the big cats also include bears, wolves, eagle owls, cranes, peacocks, deer and many other animals that moved to the branch in Fortuna Zoo territory.
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