LOOK: In rare sight, lioness nurses leopard cub in Tanzania

Panthera-Lion-Adopts-Leopard-Cub from Panthera Cats on Vimeo.

 

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.

It's believed to be the first time this kind of encounter has ever been photographed.

The five-year-old lion lies unperturbed as the small leopard, estimated to be a few weeks old, nurses in the photographs taken Tuesday by a guest at a lodge in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

Ingela Jansson, head of the KopeLion conservation group, said Thursday that 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. The leopard, meanwhile, appeared to have lost contact with its mother.

Sadly, this story isn't expected to end well.

Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer of the global wild cat organization Panthera spoke to the Washington Post. He told the paper that lionesses typically introduce cubs to their pride at about eight weeks old. Even if the little leopard cub makes it, Hunter says it's not likely the pride would be welcoming.

 

With files from the Associated Press