Little lioness Sirga was discovered when she was only a few days old. Born in a rehabilitation camp, her mother couldn't defend her cubs and all her siblings were killed by other lions.
To make matters worse, Sirga’s mother refused to feed her.
The name couldn’t have been more perfect. For Sirga was clearly destined to become a star.
Their claim to fame...
Sirga doesn‘t understand the concept of social distancing. Luckily, she doesn‘t have to. ##tiktokwildlifeday♬ Oh No I Hope I Don't Fall... - IndieHay
Sirga and Gruener’s most viral video shows the gentle giant giving the biggest, sweetest, most exuberant greeting to her caretaker. You know when big dogs don't realize how massive they are? Yeah, it’s like that.
“Sirga doesn’t understand the concept of social distancing,“ the video’s caption reads.
This video currently has close to 195,000 likes, and received a massive amount of positive reactions:
"She’s soooo happy to see you and love up on you."
"So beautiful!!! Love your relationship with such a powerful and amazing girl."
"I want a big cat hug!"
Since rising to social media stardom, Gruener and Sirga have racked up quite a few amazing TikToks. Below are some of the highlights:
Teeth brushing (hard with big cats and little cats alike)
The teeth in the back of a lions jaw act like scissors, they’ll cut through flesh and bones with ease. Sirga knows when to be gentle though 😉 ##wildlife♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Sirga cleans off her canines with a small stick, although Gruener admits that it's more for entertainment than it is hygiene.
Massive toe beans
Reply to @otterlyvirgo lion claws are shaped like hooks. Deadly weapons with which they pull down large prey like antelope or buffalo♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Those are certainly some impressive murder mittens.
Some cool hunting POVS
Hey @GoPro can you send new gear?😬🥲 ##wildlife♬ Marlboro Nights - Lonely God
Sirga does her own hunting on the reserve, which is six times larger than Central Park in New York City.
…and hunting fails
The poor guy had no clue 😅 ##wildlife♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Jackal: 1. Sirga: 0.
But hey, you win some, you lose some.
Plus a heartwarming look at then vs. now
It's pretty endearing to see their bond grow over 10 years.
Gruener even uses the platform to answer some common questions, such as:
Would Sirga protect Gruener?
Reply to @anactualpinecone Probably the most asked question about Sirga and me. Here you go!♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Camera operators, beware.
Does she interact with anyone else?
Reply to @sean_n17 let me know if you have any questions regarding Sirga in the comments! Cheers, Val♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
No, the trained professional is the only person who interacts with the lovable, yet all the same predatory animal.
Why not let her back into the wild?
By hand-raising Sirga I made a commitment to care for her as long as she lives. The risks of her being killed (or she being a threat to people/livestock) in the wild is just too big. ##lionsoftiktok♬ Stories 2 - Danilo Stankovic
Basically, the risks of being in the wild far outweigh the potential benefits.
Why does she wear a tracking collar?
Reply to @ericsaltzman42 a lot going on at the moment so we haven‘t found the time to post on TikTok! Thank you if you‘re still here 😉🙌♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Again, this is a safety measure. Mainly against poachers and in case Sirga gets out.
How much does it cost to feed her?
Happy to answer your questions. Feel free to leave your question about Sirga, me or my life in the comments. ##sirgathelioness♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Answer: around $500 a month. That's a whole lotta meat.
Has Sirga met other lions?
Reply to @hetpatel4620 happy to answer your questions! ##sirgathelioness♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Yes! Though the fence has been a boundary. Sirga would at first shy away from her initial lion visitor, but then they ended up sleeping side by side. Sadly the lion visitors have since passed away (or, even more tragic, were possibly poached). But the plan is for Sirga to eventually have her own lion partner at Modisa.
Can lions be pets? (this one seems obvious)
Predators are not pets! Sirga has 2000ha of wild Kalahari where she lives and hunts. If you have any questions drop them in comments!♬ original sound - Val Gruener & Sirga
Repeat after me: "Predators are not pets."
Actually Gruener brings up a point here that applies to most pets: that you should be committed to the animals full life span if you're going to take care of one.
Gruener also shared that he hopes their story promotes awareness for wildlife and nature conservation, rather than using big pets for fleeting entertainment.
Gruener and Sirga are helping to spread information about the importance of protecting precious wildlife. If you’re looking to help support them, and get the lion’s share of premium content, you can join their Patreon membership here.
May we all find someone who looks at us the way these two look at each other.
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