5 min read

Lion Gives Tender Hug To Woman Who Rescued Him From Circus

A years-old video of a lion seeming to recognize the woman who rescued him is sparking new controversy.

The clip comes from a TV news station's coverage of a lion who was reportedly rescued by a woman who found him. While the news coverage says the lion went to a sanctuary in Colombia, the caption of the video says the lion was discovered injured in the wild and wound up in a zoo, a distinction that can make a world of difference for the animals living in the two types of facilities.

The video shows a lion lunging at the fence when a woman approaches. At first it looks like the lion could be fiercely springing at an intruder, but a few seconds in it becomes clear his movements are affectionate. The lion embraces the woman and even tenderly nuzzles her face.

But the sweet moment, which was uploaded to YouTube in 2011 and has over 5.6 million views, sparked new controversy this week, as commenters virtually went to war about what was best for the lion, showing that even seemingly simple videos tap into complex concerns over vulnerable wild animals facing an increasingly harsh world.

"Zoos are not the only option," one commenter wrote on YouTube. "There are many different wild life sanctuaries around the world for animals like this one."

"Who cares? His quality of life is far better in a well run zoo or sanctuary," another wrote. "The wild he'd eventually be killed by other males, starvation or injury, as he already almost did. Nature isn't Disney."

"Nature mostly exists in the wild and they are doing fine, no thanks to man," another replied. "I don't know why humans have such an exaggerated sense of their importance or what they can do. So much so that they consider their vile, savage actions noble."

But a little digging unearths some answers about a video that gave rise to so many strong opinions on animals, humans and captivity. It turns out the video appears to date back to 2007 and the lion's name is Jupiter.

Jupiter was rescued from a traveling circus by Ana Julia Torres six years before the footage was captured, according to the original BBC coverage. Torres brought the abused and malnourished lion to the Villa Lorena animal shelter in Colombia, which she runs.

"Jupiter is wonderful. He's feline, but he's very human and living," Torres told the BBC. "I think this hug is the most sincere I've ever received."

The Villa Lorena shelter did not immediately reply to The Dodo's request for comment.

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