Lion husband stays by sick wife’s side until the very end

No matter what Leo and Muñeca have endured, they endured it together.

The two lions have spent the majority of their lives together.

So, it didn’t surprise many when Leo refused to leave his sick wife’s side until Muñeca passed away.

Leo and Muñeca were rescued along with their children in 2014 from a Peru circus.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) rescued the family.

While Leo and Muñeca were separated after they were taken by the circus, then rescued hundreds of miles apart in Peru, then reunited again in Africa.

“Leo and their sons, Chino, Coco, and Rolex, were successfully removed during a raid on the first day of the mission in August 2014, but the circus blocked the seizure partway through and then went into hiding,” ADI President Jan Creamer told The Dodo. “ADI caught up with them six months later and over 600 miles away, saving Muñeca and their daughters, Africa and Kiara … They were almost always together, exploring their 4-acre habitat and resting together under the trees.”

The family lived happily, roaming freely in the sanctuary. When Muñeca fell ill, Leo was the first to notice. He became extremely protective over her.

Leo would try to get her to eat and make sure she was doing well.

He snuggled her and tried his best to get her to feel better. His extra attention seemed to be comforting to Muñeca.

It was very clear to the ADI staff that Leo and Muñeca were very much in love.

“We have seen the closeness between lion companions and the bonds they share on many occasions,” Creamer said.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo found that lions often nuzzle with their pride members to strengthen their bond.

Researchers believe lions do this because it creates a group odor.

This way, they can recognize one another and know that they are safe and a member of their tribe.

“This behavior is interesting, because other animals — even similar predatory, group-living mammals like cheetahs — bond using different social interactions. For example, the spotted hyena exposes its genitals when it meets other members in its group,” INSIDER writes.

Despite all the love and care she received from her husband, Muñeca passed away after being sick for about a month.

She was 19 years old. Leo didn’t leave her until the end.

Muñeca was able to pass on from this world knowing that she was very much loved by Leo and the ADI staff.

“While we are heartbroken by her passing this week, remember the 8 wonderful years made possible by ADI supporters,” ADI wrote on their Facebook page.

A video about Leo and Muñeca was viewed more than 4,000 times on Facebook.

“Muneca knew love, care, and companionship during her time at ADI. They were so happy together. Hope Leo is coping,” wrote one commenter.

“Such a beautiful, heartwarming love story. It brought tears to my eyes. Sending comforting prayers to all of you and much more love to Handsome Leo,” said another.

Learn more about Leo and Muñeca’s love story in the video below.

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