The most important role a lioness has in the pride is to hunt and care for her cubs. But sometimes, the animal kingdom holds a lot of surprises. Just like photographers stumble upon species forming special bonds, one photographer saw a lioness approaching a little calf.
A photographer was able to catch on tape some baffling moments when a lioness went out hunting and encountered a little deer… We all know that lions’ can and will hunt deer when they can, but this time, the lioness had something else on the menu!
You would think that a lioness and a baby deer would make for a very dangerous combination. Not only is a lioness one of the top predators in the food chain, but a poor defenseless deer infant is truly no match for her powerful jaws.
However, what happens when these two cross paths is sure to surprise you.
What makes lionesses better hunters than lions? Although smaller, they are nearly 30% faster than their male counterparts, which makes them quite a fierce predator.
But what was the lioness in our story going to do with the little deer she encountered?
When a lioness found this little lost deer, you would think it would have wound up as chopped venison. However, the lioness just kept this little one between her paws…
Definitely a strange encounter due to the savage reputation of the lion, one must wonder if the kind demeanor will last. This calf’s adventure was quite twisted and confusing!
One has to suspect the lioness has raised cubs before and her motherly instincts kicked in. An infant deer would make for easy prey for such a powerful predator, yet she chose to care for it.
And it’s a good thing too, because other predators would have definitely picked it off quickly. But then, the photographer sees the lioness do something that left him speechless…
We’ve seen many documentaries and wildlife photographers talk about lionesses that have been seen taking care of cubs of a different species.
In animal sanctuaries, we’ve heard lionesses nursing leopard cubs and even puppies! Is this one caring for that deer or just preparing for a snack?
The lioness decides to care for the little deer as if it were her own. You have to wonder what happened to the deer’s mother? Could another lion have killed her? Thankfully, this lioness has chosen to show some mercy.
The photographer hoped this wasn’t some cruel joke and her kindness wasn’t really meal preparation. What happens next will truly warm your heart!
The lioness begins to clean the little deer. The deer does not seem to mind it one bit. In fact, he seems to enjoy it. We’re sure being lost and alone in the wilderness was rough on the little guy.
Was she genuinely caring for him as her own cub or as her victim? What will happen to him?
The ‘mother’ is not yet done cleaning her new baby. She keeps on licking the confused calf, which looks like he’s fallen asleep already. We must admit, a bath this rough can be tiring for a young deer.
But then, the photographer gasps as the lioness opens her mouth wider! We can’t look at it any longer!
The deer begins to grow anxious once the teeth come out. While the lioness is doing her best to be gentle, we can’t blame the little one for wanting to get out of the way of those fangs.
They could do some serious damage in one accidental bite. But we didn’t expect for this little guy to actually try to escape his new mom!
When evaluating the deer, it seems to be only a few days old. The poor thing most likely lost its mother to another predator while she was out looking for food.
Thankfully, this lioness has chosen to show it some mercy, otherwise it would have most likely experienced the same fate. But then, she opens her mouth wide and the calf starts bleating!
Unfortunately, the tide seems to change quickly and the lioness decides to open her mouth wider.
Did she decide the deer would make a better meal than a companion? It definitely looks like the little fella’s time is limited.
The deer screams out in fear as the lioness’s fangs begin to dig deep into its little body. Why did the lioness change her mind? Did the deer just smell too good to resist?
The photographer was half expecting this moment, but it was just regular wildlife drama and he knew he had to stay low and wait to see what happen next…
Thankfully, dinner was not on the lioness’s mind. She was only trying to pick the deer up like she would her cubs. It seems she wants to take the little guy with her.
However, the deer definitely seems a little unsure regarding this turn of events.
As the lioness continues her trek across the plains, the baby deer tries to wiggle its way out of her mouth.
Unfortunately, she has got a strong hold on him, so he eventually gives up. Sorry little buddy, you’re going on this journey whether you like it or not.
Sadly, it seems this journey is not the most comfortable. We can’t imagine the pain the little deer is enduring as he’s dragged around by the lioness.
However, she acts like this is just another typical day in the wild.
Despite the baby deer’s screams, the lioness continues her journey. While he is too young to have developed the fleeing instinct, he definitely feels like something is not right!
Where could she be going? We hope her kindness wasn’t a cruel game and she’s actually taking the little one to her pack as a snack.
In an abrupt change of pace, the lioness drops the deer and stares it down.
The deer looks back as if it’s too afraid to move, but has stopped bleating. However, what happens next may surprise you.
The baby deer makes a run for it… or just tries to learn how to properly walk. Maybe he’s also looking for some food. After all the help from the lioness, you would think the little guy would have better manners.
Unfortunately, he senses danger is just around the corner…
Amused by his futile effort to run away, the lioness simply picks the deer back up in her mouth. He isn’t going anywhere.
The photographer saw that he lioness began her journey once again. We truly hope it doesn’t have a bad ending.
The lioness seems quite content with the deer in her mouth. Has she changed her mind and thinks it’s better to make this little fella a snack?
They’ve already had such a bonding experience…
Once again, the deer has had enough! It wiggles out of the lioness’s jaws and tries to make a run for it. You would think this little one would realize he is no match against years of predatory instinct.
However, you can’t blame him for trying. The lioness of course simply takes a few steps and he’s back in her mouth.
The deer once again cries out, unsure of its fate. And we have to admit, we’re a little nervous too. What game is the lioness playing?
Does she want to protect the little deer or is she just prepping her meal for the kill? We really hope it’s not the latter.
Unfortunately, the fate of the baby deer is up in the air. The lioness continues to walk off with the little one in her mouth, whether he was being carried to safety or his eventual end, we’ll never know.
All we can say is send your prayers for the little one, he is going to need all the help he can get! But if you want a happy ending, here’s another mommy lion caring for a deer!
This mother lion was quite baffled by the tiny antelope that seemed to have come from nowhere. Photographer Gordon Donovan, from New York, was watching the whole moment:
“It was a bizarre yet stunning sight to behold. I was excited about the lions, and when she captured the springbok I was waiting for the kill.”
He then saw the lioness get the baby into her paws, and started caring for the little calf, even defending it from other pregnant lionesses that wanted to snack on him.
Why did this lioness protect the baby?
This lioness recently lost her cubs after a male from a rival pride invaded their territory and killed her cubs.
She was mourning their loss and took on this little calf, who was now replacing her loss…
You’re forgiven if you thought that this lioness was preparing to eat the little antelope. Even Donovan was waiting for the terrible moment:
“But it never came and started cleaning the calf. That’s the mysterious way of nature, never knowing what will happen next.”
“Then she protected her adopted springbok cub from the other lions. These are the moments I seek when I go to Africa,”
added the wildlife photographer, happy that he was able to catch these unique moments.
You could say that these photographers did have a surprise wild encounter they will never forget.
While we don’t know what happened to these little calves, it’s obvious that motherly love is beyond reason or species!