CBS Local– In Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area something amazing happened. A lioness was photographed as she was nursing an orphaned leopard cub, in one of the rare cases of cross-species nurturing.

A guest at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area took the photo and sent it to an organization that’s dedicated to the protection of big cats, Panthera. Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer of the organization, went as far to say that there’s never been a case like it.

“This is a truly unique case,” said Hunter, via Panthera’s blog. “I know of no other example of inter-species adoption or nursing like this among big cats in the wild.”

The match between lion and leopard worked well here because the lioness recently gave birth and the orphaned leopard cub is just about the same age as her lion cubs.

“This lioness is known to have recently given birth to her own cubs, which is a critical factor,” said Hunter. “She is physiologically primed to take care of baby cats, and the little leopard fits the bill—it is almost exactly the age of her own cubs and physically very similar to them.”


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