All of us are well aware that wild animals can be dangerous, especially the perfect hunters and predators like big cats. Though despite tigers, lions and jaguars are regarded as some of the world’s deadliest cats, all the cuddly lion videos or frequent visits to the zoo might strip our guards down and make it seem as if all the big felines are nothing than just family-sized kittens.

One of the people who experienced an unfortunate reminder of how perilous those kitties can be is Pieter Nortje, a 55-year-old artisan at SA Truck Bodies in Bloemfontein. He was visiting the Tikwe River Lodge in Virginia, South Africa with his wife Ilze where the pair were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary.

A man was mauled by a lioness while trying to pet it in South Africa

As the two were given a guided tour of the lions at the game lodge, Pieter decided to get closer to the lions and pet them. As the 55-year-old stuck his arm through the fence to touch the felines, one of the lions bit into his arm and started dragging.

The horrifying incident was captured on camera by Ilze and shows Pieter playfully chatting with the animals, absolutely oblivious to the dangers of the cats’ presence. As he pets the male lion, Nortje can be heard saying “If you bite me, then I’m going to bite you back,” as if he was foreshadowing what was about to happen. Though despite male lion responding well to the man’s touch, soon things so south within mere seconds as a lioness approaches and instantly grabs hold of Pieter’s outstreched arm, hanging from a hole in the fence.

Image credits: Pieter Nortjé

The animal’s teeth reportedly sunk deep into the man’s arm, reaching bone as the lioness held him for a couple of seconds. As the wife screamed “It’s biting him, it’s biting him!” the man finally managed to get his arm out of the animal’s grasp and he was immediately whisked to the Katleho Hospital in Virginia and later transferred to the Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein. According to news24, Nortje is suffering from septic shock and is in serious condition.

Watch the full video below (WARNING: Graphic content)

After watching the video, people had mixed opinions about the incident, with some expressing sympathy and other condemnation