As a young child, Valentin Gruener discovered he loved cats.
The German youth began caring for injured animals in his home and dreamed of on e day becoming a veterinarian.
Then when he became older, Valentin, who also loved to travel, decided to combine his two interests.
But he never could have imagined where his interests would lead him…
Valentin first traveled to Canada, where he worked in an oil field. But because he always had an interest in cats, he soon moved on to a place where he knew there were some really big cats—Africa.
On a farm in Namibia, Valentin met Mikkel Legarth from Denmark. The two men’s mutual love and passion for wildlife—and especially the big cats—formed the foundation of their friendship.
Together, the men decided to start a wilderness project, with a focus on creating a stronger bond and respect between people and nature.
Formed in 2009, the Modisa Wildlife Project now works to conserve wildlife in Botswana.
During the past decades, wildlife in Botswana has declined by over 60 percent due to poaching, a lack of prey, and human exploitation of nature.
Valentin and Mikkel are working hard to break this trend.
And thanks to a unique but wonderful friendship, more and more people are becoming aware of the organization.
Four years ago, Valentin found an abandoned lion cub in the wilderness. She was perhaps only 10 days old and her mother had left without a trace. And if Valentine hadn’t found her, she would have certainly died.
Valentin named the lion cub Sirga.
She survived after being looked after by her new father, who fed her a mixture of cream, milk, eggs, and vitamins on a drip.
During the following months, the pair developed a strong bond, which has only grown stronger over the years.
The little lion cub weighed 20 pounds (9 kg) when she was found, but today, Sirga today weighs more than 300 pounds (136 kg).
But she has hardly forgotten who rescued her.
Is there any doubt that these two are best friends?
According to Valentin, Sirga is always happy to see him.
Presumably, she thinks that Valentine is part of the same pack.
Although Sirga may seem like a big, cuddly cat, the reality is different.
She doesn’t like strangers—and only Valentin is allowed to feed her.
“We don’t want Sirga to be like other lions in captivity that are fed by constant streams of tourists,” Valentin told the Daily Express.
She catches antelope and has learned how to prowl, wait in ambush, and be patient—everything she needs to be a successful hunter.
But when it comes to Valentine, it’s only love that Sirga wants.
“I do not believe she will ever turn on me and I have never been worried,” Valentin told the Daily Express. “We trust each other completely and if I tell her to back off she listens.”
Days can go by without Sirga and Valentin meeting, but once they reunite, it’s like nothing has happened.
Watch the video below to see how close these two best friends really are!