Although he is the king of the jungle and one of the world’s most fearsome predators, this majestic lion immediately transforms into a softhearted kitten when he first meets his little cub. During an expedition in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas captured the lovely event on camera. The photographs are just delightful!
Although lionesses avoid bringing their newborn pups near males, when this proud father sees one of his kids for the first time, he appears to be the gentle giant. Despite first appearing uneasy about his father, the cute 7-week-old cub gradually summons the bravery to approach the huge male. The end result is nothing short of wonderful, as the two appear to be having the time of their lives while play-fighting.
The 36-year-old California photographer spent many months in Masai Mara pursuing this family of lions, but she claimed it was well worth it since she experienced some beautiful and intimate moments with the pride.
“It’s always tough to photograph newborn animals,” the woman explained. “You spend a lot of time simply waiting while they’re tucked away in tall grass and thick cover. You’ll be there when the mother pulls them out into the open if you put in enough hours.”
Suzi first saw this specific cub, as well as his two siblings, when he was only three weeks old. The cubs normally connect with their protective moms during the first two months of their existence. As a result, when these cubs were more than seven weeks old, their mother thought they were ready to meet their father.
“In this case, I monitored the pride for three months, from the time the cubs were just three weeks old, every day from dawn to sunset,” Eszterhas stated. “In these scenes, their mother took them out of the den for the first time, including their father, to greet the pride.”
The powerful male was incredibly attentive and protective of his children, but their mother kept a close check on them to ensure the male wouldn’t be too harsh with her children.
“The cub seemed frightened and apprehensive at first, but the father was quite kind,” the photographer explained. “The father, on the other hand, reacted tenderly by playing with them and growling often. The mother, on the other hand, was sitting nearby, keeping a watchful eye on the father, ready to pounce if he went violent with her pups.”