It goes without saying that you should be careful around lions and other wild animals, but that doesn’t mean that they are un-feeling, cold-blooded killers. Frikkie Von Solms, a 69-year-old lion caretaker in Southern Africa, knows this perfectly well: he has spent the last 11 raising Zion, a gentle, tender and loving African lion.
Zion was born in captivity to a lioness named Simba but had to be separated due to fears that his father would kill him. Growing up with Von Solms, Zion has turned into a little softie – when Von Solms goes for a walk with him, he takes his shoes off because their noise bothers the big cat.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience to grow up with him and learn and live with him through all of the stages of being a lion,” Von Solms told the Daily Mail. “People talk about lions like they are just lions but they have personalities, they have humour and laugh. Zion is a gentle giant. He has never attacked humans and I trust him completely.”
Zion was separated from his mother as a cub for fears that his father would kill him
He has spent all 11 years of his life growing up with Frikkie the caretaker
Zion is such a softie that he prefers Frikkie walk without his shoes because noise bothers him
The 11-year-old lion and 69-year-old caretaker have become the best of friends
“Zion is a gentle giant. He has never attacked humans and I trust him completely”
“It was a once in a lifetime experience to grow up with him and learn and live with him through all of the stages of being a lion”
“People talk about lions like they are just lions but they have personalities, they have humour and laugh”
The two are so close that they share a truck and a bed
Frikkie says he has raised 19 lions, tigers and cheetahs, but says that Zion “is special because of the bond we share. I learned so much from him”
Sometimes, Frikkie even holds Zion’s tail affectionately
Lions can be dangerous, but Frikkie and Zion prove that this is not always the case
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