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Kurt Schultz, the operator of Kurt Safari, came across a male baboon holding a lion cub on Saturday in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Kurt Safari
Many of us are familiar with the iconic scene in “The Lion King” when Rafiki holds a young Simba aloft in front of all the animals of the savanna. It turns out a version of that actually happened — and, of course, there are photos to prove it.
The bizarre scene happened in South Africa’s Kruger National Park on Saturday. Kurt Schultz, the operator of Kurt Safari, said he’d never seen such behavior in 20 years.
He told The Associated Press that the male baboon was treating the lion cub as if it were one of its babies.
“Male baboons do a lot of grooming, but the care given to this lion cub was the same care given by a female baboon to one of her own young,” he said.
He said the baboon kept moving from branch to branch, carrying the cub. Schultz added that the cub “seemed very exhausted” and was “showing signs of dehydration” on what was a hot morning.
He said it was possible the baboons had discovered the lion cub, adding that a group of the primates (known as a “troop”) was in an area where lions and leopards would sometimes leave their cubs while they go out to hunt prey.
While Rafiki was kind and nurturing (if a bit mischievous) in “The Lion King,” it’s doubtful the real-life baboon would take care of the lion cub as well, Schultz told the AP. He said the troop of baboons was large enough that it would be hard for the cub’s mother to snatch it back, adding that he had even heard of baboons killing lion cubs.
“Nature is cruel at most times, and the survival of a young predator cub is not easy,” he said.
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