What's Happening in This Photo Is Kind of Amazing

It shows the rare sight of a leopard cub suckling on a lion
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 14, 2017 8:18 AM CDT
What's Happening in This Photo Is Kind of Amazing
In this photo supplied by Joop van der Linde, a leopard cub suckles on a 5-year-old lioness in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania.   (Joop van der Linde)

Newly released photographs from a Tanzanian wildlife area show an incredibly rare sight: a leopard cub suckling on a lion believed to have given birth to a litter last month. The 5-year-old lion lies unperturbed as the small leopard, estimated to be a few weeks old, nurses in the photographs taken by a guest at a lodge in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, per the AP. "To observe a thing like this is very unusual," says Ingela Jansson, head of the KopeLion conservation group, which seeks to resolve conflict between lions and local residents who hunt the predators in order to protect their livestock.

The lactating lion, fitted with a GPS collar so that researchers can track her, may have lost her own cubs and therefore was open to feeding the leopard cub, Jansson said. The leopard, meanwhile, appeared to have lost contact with its mother, she said. "Cross-species nursing for wild cats, and other wildlife for that matter, is extremely unique," according to a statement from Panthera, a wild cat conservation group based in New York. One cautionary note: The group's president says it's possible other lions will kill the cub once they realize it's not one of their own. (More leopards stories.)

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