Baby Baboon’s Frightening Encounter with Lions Ends with a Heroic Twist

This is one of the most remarkable wildlife interactions that I have come across in my time. The photographs are amazing, but it’s the touching behaviour of the animals involved that makes this story so unique.

Photographer Evan Schiller and Lisa Holzwarth were on a game drive in the northern Botswana’s Selinda Camp when they came across a big troop of baboons charging through the bush.

“30-40 baboons were heading in our general direction making a lot of noise,” Lisa recalls.

The baboons were obviously frightened by something and they all scampered up trees, shouting, alarming, and making a big scene. It quickly became clear what the problem was: two large lionesses came out of the tall grass and rushed the baboons into the trees, soon joined by two more lionesses.

“Between the baboons shrieking and the lionesses communicating with deep guttural roars, it was a mad scene,” Lisa says.

But then the real chaos began! One brave baboon descended the dead tree and tried to make a run for it… but got snapped up in the jaws of a lioness.

lions and baboons
The lioness grabbed a female baboon on the run. But there was something else there… As the baboon lay dying in the jaws of the lioness, a little baby (less than a month old) slowly disengaged from its mother’s body. Photograph by Evan Schiller
Lioness and baby baboon
Instinct took over and the baby tried to make a go for a tree, but did not have the strength to climb. At this point the lioness noticed the “little guy” and went over to investigate. Photograph by Evan Schiller
Lioness and baby baboon
Instead of snapping the baby up in a deadly movement, she started to play with the baboon. Photograph by Evan Schiller
Lioness and baby baboon
The lioness was inquisitive and gentle at the same time. Photograph by Evan Schiller

“The baby was showing signs of physical harm and fatigue from the whole ordeal. The lioness picked the baby up in her mouth—it was in agony watching the baby’s ordeal—and I kept on turning off the video option on my camera because it was hard to record.”

The lioness softly picks up the baby baboon and drops it in front of her. Photo by Evan Schiller
After a while she picked up the baboon softly in her mouth and walked away, then settled down with the baby between her paws. Photograph by Evan Schiller
Lioness and baby baboon
In a strange behavioural twist, the baboon started to try and suckle the lioness. Photograph by Evan Schiller

What happened next blew our minds – the baby, in another instinctual moment, held onto the lioness’ chest and tried to suckle…

Lioness and baby baboon
Photograph by Evan Schiller
Back off Jack!
The lioness got distracted—this time by two male lions who arrived on the scene. Their advances, however, were met with aggression by the lioness. Was she defending the baby baboon? Or just uninterested in their mating advances? Photograph by Evan Schiller

Here’s where it gets interesting: Waiting in a nearby tree is a big male baboon, who is obviously intent on saving the baby. The male lions were causing such a ruckus that it presented a short window of opportunity for the brave hero to descend the tree, grab the baby and head back to safety.

“I was touched by how gently the father baboon held this little baby who was in tough shape after its ordeal.” 

The heroic male baboon, having just saved the baby from the lions, cradled him in his arms. Photograph by Evan Schiller
With the heat of the morning sun getting stronger by the minute, the Father Baboon had to make a move.  Holding the baby, in all sorts of contorted positions, he tried numerous times to climb down the tree.  He tested the lionesses’ interest with each descent. Photo by Evan Schiller
The father baboon had to make a move. Holding the baby, in all sorts of contorted positions, he tried numerous times to climb down the tree. He tested the lionesses’ interest with each descent. Photograph by Evan Schiller

The baby baboon was really struggling with the heat and the father baboon really needed to get him into the shade. Finally, with the combination of daring courage and the lions own desire to take cover in some shade, he was able to dash to the safety and shade of a neighbouring tree.

And what happened to the baby? It seems the little guy survived with the help of his troop. He was alive and safe in his father’s arms when Evan and Lisa left.

“No matter what,” Lisa says. “The young baboon remains an inspiration to me—and a reminder, that life is fragile and no matter how much we fight to control its outcome, all we can do is live in the moment.”


Paul Steyn is a widely-published travel journalist from South Africa. Having guided throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel magazine, and now writes about and photographs unique experiences around the world. Follow him on twitter or Instagram @steynless


  1. Glenn
    united states
    February 25, 5:33 pm

    as time goes by we will more things like this and even more surprising. “the lion will lay down with the kid” “the lion will eat straw like the ox”. like it or not, we live in an interesting age. the coming is at hand.

  2. James
    February 25, 4:37 pm

    People who use Scripture but do not actually know it or understand it are simply proving the stereotypes of the goofy, ignorant Christian correct. First of all, the Bible does NOT say man is superior to animals. It says man shall have dominion over animals. Dominion does NOT equal superiority. Most people have had a boss (dominion) that we would classify as INferior, in every way possible. Dogs and sharks have a sense of smell FAR superior to ours. Eagles eyesight is FAR superior to ours. A sea turtle has a lifespan far superior to ours. Sharks don’t get cancer. Ants and bees can work together without getting jealous or envious of someone with a “better” job. And we’re superior?? C’mon. Superiority requires nothing. But having dominion means duty and responsibility. To protect. To serve. If you don’t understand the Scripture you’re spouting off, I can guarantee you don’t understand the Scripture you’re NOT talking about. And if you don’t understand Scripture, you absolutely CANNOT understand the God revealed through Scripture.

    And let’s put to the test your theory. Go swim with some great whites, play keep away with a t-bone steak with some lions, play “tag” with some gorillas, go tickle some rattlesnakes, go wrestle some crocodiles. And if any of them dare to get aggressive with you, remind them how superior you are to them and how you’re the Boss!!! Let me know how that works out for you……

  3. Becky
    Ca usa
    February 24, 5:08 pm

    Got alot people ;-) <3

  4. Q Nice
    Bang City!
    February 20, 12:38 pm

    Most wild animals like to play with their pray before they eat them. LoL

  5. Paul L. Ross
    Boston Ma. U.S.A
    February 14, 2:08 am

    Re: John Ts 1/26 comments on the lioness, baby baboon drama.John you state your love for animals but continue on how “scripture” relates that God made man and women superior to all things on earth and animals etc.are here for our use and treatment as we see fit. Keep faith in those scriptures John as man in all his wisdom destroys every animal and ecosystem on earth.! As for our superiority over animals please consider this abbreviated quote; “Animals shall not be measured by man.In a world more complete than ours, they are gifted with senses we have lost and voices we can never hear.They are not brethren;they are not underlings;they are other nations caught with us as fellow prisoners of the splendor and travails of earth.” Henry Beston 1928

  6. Yes
    The World
    February 11, 10:45 pm

    Please stop saying things like MEN are responsible for the animals are the Earth. You are a complete retard to believe this. We are the worst animals on the planet. Name one animal that is destroying the animals of the Earth like man? Name just one. Man is the virus to ALL living things on Earth. Any other interpretation is complete insanity. Sorry if you are reading this and finally figuring out you are insane, but someone had to tell you. Stop having a God complex. We are a virus on this planet that will eventually destroy everything. We have nothing to do with the God of this planet. You are deceived. We are the devil of this world. Absolute evil.

  7. Marty
    Tmarac, FL
    January 30, 7:56 pm

    This has to be amazing

  8. Tio Moe
    January 30, 10:42 am

    Nature’s que to never judge a book by its cover….

  9. John T
    January 26, 5:32 pm

    I love animals and fascinated by the act of this lioness. Perhaps mankind do not understand fully well what is on the mind of an animal. My opinion is that If you are as a human being, and want to learn from an animal, something tells you that you may be reducing yourself to buying into the thinking of an animal. Man’ best friend is a dog after all, Isn;t it? I am inclined to believe it.According to the sriptures, God created humans as superior to everything on earth . Men and women are created by God as the superior beings on earth without any doubt and allowed us to make use of everythig on earth as we see fit in the best posssible, useful and effective way without breaking the moral code of nature, such as, do not hurt any creatures, plants or, other beings on earth or, any man made or ,natural strutctures on earth or other human beings for the fun of it. or for any other unfair or unlawful reason. No question about it ,unless it is proven otherwise. I think that animal instinct is something man kind should get away from as much as possible. As a human being, You should be the master of this world and this universe. No doubt about it.Your kind heart makes you think a lot about this lioness’s motherly instinct;sure. Yes of course, and it is natural.If you stop snd think for a moment, and if you must give a full credit to this lioness either she, as a member of a pride or, she as the head of the pride, she must be a born hunter of all animals that are accessible to her to provide food for the members of her pride irrespective of the ages of her prey . In fact, in general, most animals choose a weaker prey, when they hunt in order to be very successful in hunting. Perhaps we hve to think more about it before coming to any kind of conclusion about this lioness .

  10. hs
    January 6, 1:46 pm

    contact me

  11. Cal King
    January 1, 3:11 pm

    The lionesses must have seen the eyes of the baby baboon and that switched on her mothering instinct. Suddenly she mistook the baboon as her own cub.

  12. Shawn
    December 30, 2014, 12:18 am

    Paul Steyn is so f’n hot!

  13. Teddy OMBA Elongo
    Kent, Washington, USA
    December 28, 2014, 3:02 am

    God is love,

    Love is sacrifice, patience, ect…
    That is a demonstration of God is love , the wold is going back to the beginning . The strog need to protect the week .

    To be a brother keeper.,

  14. vaffangool
    London, UK
    October 3, 2014, 9:22 pm

    The male baboon’s bravery is all for naught if cannot find a lactating surrogate to nurse the infant. Not likely unless a mother in the troop has recently lost her own newborn—or the male is willing to make that happen.

    Either way, that’s one dead baby within a couple of days.

  15. Frank Paige
    United States
    July 28, 2014, 1:40 pm

    I’m late to the scene and I did not have time to examine all the other comments. To me, these series of pictures represent the definitive “mother in nature” as well as a representative “Mother Nature” in action. This has nothing to do with domestic cats. Wild animals have keener and higher quality of senses. Starting with the sense of smell, the behavior of the Lioness was probably influenced by the odors from the Baby Baboon. The lioness was dedicated to the well being of that baby. This is not just about the beauty of cats. It’s about the beauty of all female mammals and the gentle , motherly, protective instincts built into each female. It seems the male baboon understood the possibilities a lot better than most of us and took advantage with a very reduced risk. Had a dumb (male cat), interrupted his rescue effort, the Jungle Queen might have been required to perform a lot more . Take That tom the Bank !!

  16. Harry McNicholas
    Ely, Nevada
    July 6, 2014, 2:01 pm

    If the lioness was going to kill the baby baboon, she would have killed it in a minute. To asume because your domestic cat does something that a lion has the same habbits is dumb. All animals have very different habbits. Ex. YOu might say that all cats do not like wáter and yet the Jaguar loves wáter and will not live anywhere that there is not at least a pool of wáter. Stop assuming things about animals and their behavior. Scientists have discovered that all mammals have a gene or set of genes for compassion. This is what allows them to survive so well. One cannot say when compassion may arise. A predator might rip off your head or sit down with you to be petted.

  17. Random
    June 12, 2014, 6:04 pm

    Animals kill if they are in danger or if they are hungry! There was no danger and there was no need for food! Why kill it?

  18. gnp
    June 5, 2014, 6:49 am

    It is called food preservation ;)

  19. rvrna
    April 21, 2014, 9:43 am

    Maybe the lioness think that the baby baboon is very small to be eaten

  20. Aysha
    April 19, 2014, 11:04 am

    really, nature is the greatest lesson ever ..

  21. Mkhokheli Moyo
    April 19, 2014, 10:10 am

    What an amazing experience,but its however common behavior with these female cats especially Cheetahs and Lions.

  22. jepoy
    April 19, 2014, 1:01 am

    its about love nd respect

  23. jepoy
    April 19, 2014, 12:56 am

    its about respect

  24. Esther
    April 18, 2014, 11:54 pm

    There is a big difference between instinct and rationality. The first one is for this case,…but who knows what could have happened if the baby baboon’s father didn’t saved it.

  25. Denise
    April 18, 2014, 11:25 pm

    To Mel in the Philippines:

    I have seen both the videos you posted as the documentaries that were aired on the Nat Geo channels. The leopard had killed the mother baboon without realizing she had a baby. The leopard did not kill the baby baboon but attempted to keep it warm and slept with it through the night. Unfortunately, the baby baboon succumbed to the cold temperatures of the African night. That leopard’s name was Legadema and the story is told in “Eye of the Leopard”. The Joubert’s filmed that documentary.
    In the case of the lioness Kaminyak (sp?) and the oryx. That story is featured in the documentary “The Lioness and the Oryx”. She proceeded to latch onto several oryx as each calf passed due to being predated by another predator. Never once did Kaminyak kill any of the baby oryx that she latched onto. What happened in the sequence described here was more similar to what happened with Legadema. Fortunately, the baby was able to return to the troop. But even male baboons have been known to run off with babies (infanticide by male baboons is common in some troops). So the baby might not have been saved by the baboon, even though it appears that way from the pictures.

  26. Ibrahim Mansaray
    United States
    April 18, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Very astonishing stories, but one question strike my mind after watching and reading all of these stories, If beast in nature are so much compassionate and loving, why not humans?
    Nature can be beautiful some time !!!

  27. Mary
    Washington State
    April 18, 2014, 7:21 pm

    I’m confused about the pic with the two male lions and the lioness being aggressive to them. The image, the 8th one down, doesn’t look right. Of the three lions there, only one has a mane. Shouldn’t both males have manes? And the right half of the image looks like it’s a lioness being aggressive to a male lion, while the left half looks like the lioness with the baby between her legs. Is that image a composite of two pictures?

  28. Thomas
    April 18, 2014, 6:16 pm

    *the baby’s mother is dead, whilest the baby baboon still needed milk to survive (see: he tried to suckle on the lioness)

  29. Thomas
    April 18, 2014, 6:13 pm

    No way that was maternal instinct. I’ve had cats my entire life and the expression in those lionesses eyes tell no lies. Its a cat with a toybaboon to play with.

    As for the touching part tha baby who still ahd to suckle is dead so no doubt the baby will be dead not much after. Slow death by starvation. The only touching thing is the male baboon who saved the young baboon.

  30. Willie
    April 18, 2014, 4:11 pm

    Nature is the biggest lesson ever..We as humans beings have both wisdom and senses than these animals but its a challenge to see in some capacity, animals can reason.When a woman aborts her unborn child,she should remember that the creature inside her is innocent..She too was NOT aborted.Kids are sacred,innocent and pure!Second we should learn the hardships and risks a women undergo to make sure we grow up happy and healthy.

  31. mula
    April 18, 2014, 1:20 pm

    but do not forget, she just ate his mother, not very nice as you all said…

  32. Shinji K
    April 18, 2014, 11:30 am

    This will be a wild maternal instinct of a mother lion.
    It’s a very wonderful photograph.
    Thank you!

  33. maha
    April 18, 2014, 11:18 am

    How heart breakingly wonderful :) nature is really unpredictable

  34. Bakhtiar Ali
    April 18, 2014, 10:34 am

    Nature is kind to animals babies.

  35. Rashid Mukoon
    Port louis,Mauritius
    April 18, 2014, 10:27 am

    wonderful experience.

  36. Astroboy
    Marquette, MI
    April 18, 2014, 9:48 am

    This is the same type of videographer that usually works on Sasquatch cases. “I turned the video off.” Whatever.

  37. Prajuto
    April 18, 2014, 9:46 am

    That all are animal. How about human being….they kill each other sometimes just for nothing….

  38. Nancy Odenthal
    April 18, 2014, 9:37 am

    This interpretation and analysis would have earned a straight-up “F” in any basic Biology course. The photos are spectacular and could have been used to educate readers about animal behavior. Instead we get and anthropomorphic view with a little bit of “The Lion King” thrown in. Hugely disappointing and a definite missed opportunity.

  39. merghani mohamed
    April 18, 2014, 9:25 am

    The lioness protected the little baboone, to let it grow up to be able to eat next year.

  40. Sebastian Pinto
    April 18, 2014, 8:18 am

    Very emotional. Motherly love. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  41. reggy
    April 18, 2014, 6:30 am

    its just a trap for the mother to come out, the baby dont show fear and awareness so the lions did not eat the baby

  42. Thiru
    April 18, 2014, 6:09 am

    Agree with Will. April 7th.
    Don’t assume what animals are thinking.
    Instead, work to fix human problems.

  43. Sepide khk
    Tehran, Iran
    April 18, 2014, 3:18 am

    I cried the beauty :(( it was amazing.

  44. Nir
    April 18, 2014, 2:19 am

    I think it is rather a normal behavior if the lioness had recently lost (killed or died from diseases) her cubs.

    This kind of behavior is well documented in the wild. And, in most cases the relation is not exactly like Mother & Child; it is rather Protector & protected.

  45. xiAn
    April 18, 2014, 2:13 am

    what ever it is at least the baby baboon was alive after all that happens…

  46. minali
    April 18, 2014, 1:12 am

    Thank you Paul for sharing this ,
    Nature has wonders to show, beauty in the beast !

  47. Dexter
    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    April 18, 2014, 1:07 am

    It’s really amazing that the little baboon can make through his threatening moment. Bravo and long life for him!
    Thank you…Dexter

  48. grace
    April 18, 2014, 1:03 am

    oooooohh im touched..cnt hold back the tears rolling down my cheeks..

  49. asim saeed
    April 18, 2014, 12:59 am


  50. Tex
    April 18, 2014, 12:50 am

    To Kenyon. You can believe what you want to believe or not to believe. DO NOT impose your disbelief on others.

  51. Joseph
    April 18, 2014, 12:45 am

    In life we sometimes take some actions and later on regret why why we took such actions. am sure the Lioness was sorry for killing mother Baboon.
    Did it eat mother baboon after? or it just killed her as a sport.

  52. Bob
    April 17, 2014, 11:04 pm

    To Kenyon Krause:
    I feel sorry for you. Everywhere you go you have to display your bigotry and hatred. It must be exhausting.

  53. Carla
    April 17, 2014, 10:31 pm

    Very touching story …

  54. Unknown
    April 15, 2014, 10:01 am


  55. Kenyon Krause
    United States
    April 12, 2014, 5:45 am

    To Marge whom this reminded of a story in a fairy tale book. Yes, the bible and most stories in it are still fiction and still very far fetched.

  56. Marge
    Mission Viejo
    April 9, 2014, 8:15 pm

    This reminds me of a story in the Bible where it says and the lion will lay down with the lamb, referring to the day when the ord will return.

    Doesn’t seem so far fetched now, huh.

  57. Rajendran Neduvelil
    Westmead, Australia
    April 9, 2014, 6:17 am

    There is nothing ‘hard and fast’ in nature? Miracles do happen. May be some coincidence? Coincidence is a short miracles, where God chose to remain anonymous!!!

  58. Tima
    April 8, 2014, 7:51 pm

    She was just saving him for dessert.

  59. Cinda
    April 8, 2014, 4:57 pm

    Reality – not human emotion. This is real in the wild, watch and learn….the mum was dinner, the baby future snack.

  60. Saji
    April 8, 2014, 1:05 pm

    Hi, This is what say in Sanskrit ” yad bhavo that bhavati”. ie. in Mahtma Gandi’s stories you can see one. A little child playing with a snake. They just played like friends, when the baby’s saw this she started crying and yelling with fear, then Gandhiji consoled her saying don’t worry the baby will come back once they finish their play and snake will not harm the baby. Same happened after little while play baby crawled back to it’s mother and snake went away.
    Only that will happen which you think. Here baby baboon doesn’t know about about a leopard so there is no fear in it’s mind, if the baboon was a big it know that leopard will attack and eat so same will happen.
    So, please make your mind like a baby no fear, no bad(negative) thoughts always think positively then the world will be a beautiful place to live. “Yad bhavo thad bhavati” for more you can learn this from SANADHANA DHARMA (real Indian dharma)

  61. Roy
    April 8, 2014, 10:40 am

    To @ Laura W

    But what if the relationship goes for days or weeks, any study in that direction

  62. jayp
    AL-Khobar, K.S.A
    April 8, 2014, 5:30 am

    A lesson for human from the animals.

  63. RamRamesh
    April 8, 2014, 4:05 am

    I’m very happpy to hear this good news…. love never ends…<3

  64. Julia
    South Africa
    April 8, 2014, 3:36 am

    In Africa anything is possible, but mankind could learn a lot from watching animals. P.S. The BASTARDS who are taking out our Rhino – I cannot wish you anything good, I am not that lioness.

  65. R Joseph
    April 8, 2014, 3:13 am

    Lioness may be playing with the small baby baboon.
    Nice to see and to read!!!!!!!!.

    But what will happen to the human being, if hatred, proud, and Luxury will go out from the earth. This earth will become Heaven. One day it will happen. When all the human beings are in one language. Except human being all the other creatures language are same. I mean, Crows, Dogs and Cats etc..all along the whole world pronounce in same manner. But, Human being can’t.

  66. Ajesh
    Bangalore India
    April 8, 2014, 2:18 am

    No words to say! Kept watching the snaps for a long time…. Really heart Touching….

  67. Dayana George
    India, Kerala
    April 8, 2014, 1:17 am

    I Don’t know. what say….
    I am very impressive.

  68. ennui4sb
    SC in the US
    April 7, 2014, 10:27 pm

    For flipping sake, I’m glad I wasn’t raised by some of these people that posted. I think most people know the feline’s instinctual nature toward prey, but can we not enjoy the flipping moment? More likely the lioness would have eaten the baby but there are instances of cross-species nurturing so there is a chance she was being maternal. Considering all the nastiness we see in this world, I choose to think that this time something ‘good’ was happening. Thank you for the story.

  69. Melissa S
    April 7, 2014, 7:31 pm

    The comments here embarrass me.

    “Ohh why can’t WE LEARN FROM ANIMALS and be more compassionate!?”

    Yeah, let’s learn from this story and save the babies of our neighbors after we have eaten them. Not that the lion even saved anything. It found a plaything, basically. And people are writing nonsense. Exactly why I wrote this:

  70. Will
    April 7, 2014, 4:02 pm

    Why is everyone talking about how touching and loving this event is? Do any of you remember the first part of the story, the part that explains how the lioness got a hold of the baby in the first place, the part where it explains that the lioness had just KILLED the mother?

    We have no way of really knowing what that lioness was thinking. Maybe she was having some kind of motherly moment. Probably not, though.

    I’ve had cats all my life, and as fond of them as I am, I am also the first to admit just how murderously cruel they can be. Cats demonstrate a unique propensity to amuse themselves at the expense of their food. Once they’ve determined there’s no real chance for it to escape they’ll watch it, paw at it with their claws retracted, flip it up in the air, let it almost get away then drag it back, and maybe even injure it just a little bit to make sure it can’t get all the way away. Basically, they do everything except deal the death blow. This is why cats are so easy to play with, even far into maturity. You think it’s cute when they chase a string, but all that string really is is surrogate prey.

    This can go on for hours. Eventually, the cat will get bored and it will put the poor thing out of its misery. If it’s hungry it’ll eat it. If not, it’ll just leave it there to rot.

    I have serious doubts that there was any motherly tenderness going on here. I suspect that it’s more likely that this is a case of that lioness knowing it had a defenseless infant at its mercy and was in no hurry to finish it off. The mother had just been freshly killed so the next meal wasn’t a concern.

    Unexpected tenderness can and does occur in the wild but this seems like a highly unlikely set of circumstances for supporting that. That baby wasn’t abandoned. It was freshly orphaned, by the very thing you “think” is now giving it a loving embrace.

    The most probable thing here is us doing what we typically do. We are so arrogant that we can’t help but apply humanistic qualities to everything. If we were to find a baby, of any species(any species we deem “cute”, anyway) we would do our best to rescue it. This is not the typical situation in nature. Most likely, that lioness considered the baby to be a tender delicacy, not a desperate child.

    Nature is not the sugar-coated topping we like to think it is. There’s a reason animals in a zoo are caged and segregated, and it’s not because they spend too much time nurturing each other’s young.

  71. Mel
    April 7, 2014, 11:25 am

    Another similar situation is this one, the lion that adopted an young antelope. Nature can be pretty amazing.

  72. Mel
    April 7, 2014, 10:43 am

    Makes me think of this video – Leopard and baby baboon – very similar situation for the doubters:

    April 7, 2014, 10:02 am

    wow amazing !!!

  74. Dave Andrews
    April 7, 2014, 8:29 am

    Before we all get too teary-eyed, remember that the babies of many species are prime targets for meals of other species. And male lions will often kill the babies of their own species to force the mother to go into heat again so they can mate with them and produce their own offspring. It’s a jungle out there.

    india nagaland
    April 7, 2014, 7:47 am

    man should learn from animal ins ted making war each other

    April 7, 2014, 6:38 am


  77. Laura W
    New York
    April 7, 2014, 6:13 am

    Yeah, this is pretty disappointing analysis from Nat Geo. As others have mentioned this is an instance of a cat playing with its food. My cat does this when he catches big spiders and mice: he sits there mesmerized by them, playing with them, nuzzling them, and then BOOM they’ve been ingested.

    I also think some commenters on here misunderstand the meaning of the expression “nature vs. nurture.”

    Sadly, as others have mentioned, this baboon baby’s future looks pretty bleak. The male baboon who rescued it, if he was its father (which is likely since cercopithecine males do not have a huge deal of tolerance for babies who are not their own, especially in the absence of mating incentives–i.e., the potential to mate with a baby’s mother, an opportunity that a male baboon might secure by being very, very kind to previous infant that’s not his so as to prove to its mom that he is a capable dad, and an opportunity which clearly isn’t here since the mom is dead) obviously does not have ability to suckle the baby. At a month old, this baby was 3-4 months younger than the age most baboons are when they feed. And again, as another commenter mentioned, by the looks of the baboon’s dad, this infant’s mother was probably not especially high-ranking (high-ranking females go for more robust and less scraggly males). This means a lot of things for this baby, and none of them are good. First off, low-ranking mom baboons tend to keep their babies close and wean later than high-rankers, because the infants of low-ranked moms usually cannot get the kind of support or deference from the baboon troop at large that would allow them to get solid nutrition and survive without their moms at such a young age. The infants of high-ranking females can sort of do whatever they want: they can go displace the infant of a low-ranking mom during feeding, they can really push the other infants around and get their way because the hierarchy is well understood and their whole matriline is very dominant and will support them in a scuffle. A low-ranking infant doesn’t have this same leeway. Just as a example, in long-term studies of yellow baboons in Amboseli, the youngest a female baboon ever was when she lost her mother and then survived was 16 months at loss of maternal care, and this was the baby of a VERY high-ranking female. This baby likely won’t be so lucky. Even if one of its mom’s sisters adopts it, which can happen, adoptee baboons tend to be treated as outsiders throughout their lives, especially if they are females, because female baboons do not disperse and stay in their natal groups (males do better later because they disperse at puberty and can get sort of a fresh start in the groups they move to). Essentially, for a baby female baboon, the mom is a really important ally, and with her gone at such an early age, even if this baby avoided becoming a lion’s lunch this time, it will not last long. This is really sad but it’s how baboons do business: they are VERY hierarchical, and while they form important bonds with one another, baboon social life is really an area where the strongest survive and the others need all the help they can get from allies, most importantly mom.

  78. jijindas
    April 7, 2014, 6:07 am


  79. Raj
    April 7, 2014, 5:32 am

    No words! Kept watching the snaps for a long time…. Really Touching….

  80. temitope
    lagos, Nigerian
    April 7, 2014, 4:25 am

    Nature is beautiful and very uncommon scene. nature is teaching us on how to show LOVE among others. Thanks for the experience.

  81. Khurrum
    April 7, 2014, 1:29 am

    this is just amazing.

  82. Anand
    April 6, 2014, 5:08 pm

    Just one word ” Awesome “….

  83. John Gitiri
    April 6, 2014, 12:36 pm

    Amazing how much nature got to offer to human, if wild animals cares for each other we humans should live in peace!

  84. Lynx
    April 6, 2014, 8:34 am

    Just a note: Baby Baboons are often ‘stolen’ from their birth mothers by higher ranking female baboons. It’s VERY likely that once the male got back to his troop the baby was taken in and raised by another adult female baboon. Since the father doesn’t look like he was high-ranked, it’s very likely that the child would have been stolen anyway.

  85. Naheed
    April 6, 2014, 3:03 am

    This is heartwarming! I fell in love with it when the lioness, instead of having an intention to harming the baby baboon, started playing with it and sat with it laying it between her arms. Lions have been misunderstood creatures, but in all likelyhood they too have a softer side to them like other animals.

  86. someinternetdude
    April 6, 2014, 2:12 am

    Great story of survival, how awesome would it be to replay the events here to these little guys in about 3 million years or so when they will evolve to where they can appreciate the sacrifice and heroism.

  87. rhum sellers
    April 6, 2014, 1:34 am

    No matter how dangerous wild animals can be, they have soft hearts for babies…as these series of photos showed.

  88. SMAB
    April 5, 2014, 7:16 pm

    Subhan Allah !!!

    The love of a Mother has no comparison, YES but there is a Love greater than the Love of Mother… THE ONE’S – WHO CREATED THE MOTHER = Allah

  89. Foo
    April 5, 2014, 4:46 pm

    “Evan Schiller is one of the premier golf course photographers in the world.”

    ok… thanks that explains it… basically prior to this assignment, the only wild animal interacted with were the dragonflies around the water spot of the golf course.

  90. Divergirl
    April 5, 2014, 4:18 pm

    and now the baby is dead..come on it was one month old and the poor baby’s mother is dead..the father can not feed it milk and it is not easy for a baby to get adopted by another mother in the wild.

  91. Fred
    Winnipeg CA
    April 5, 2014, 4:14 pm

    As soon as the lioness would become hungry
    The little guy would have been her meal. What a smart brave male.

  92. Avbrahee maje
    April 5, 2014, 3:32 pm


  93. Taura Antónia Salimo
    April 5, 2014, 3:31 pm

    A natureza nada faz em vão! Há coisa que são próprias do reino animal e quase são de difícil interpretação e seus detalhes são como jóias de varias facetas. Todas espectaculares.

    April 5, 2014, 1:04 pm

    Yup! lyf is fragile live it with a brave manner!

  95. kalind kalla
    April 5, 2014, 12:56 pm

    amazing video motherhood affection.
    simply describe nature heart. Time to learn animals love

    April 5, 2014, 12:30 pm

    it was fantastic….totally out of the world experience for me…i was just like oh my god!!!!!!!!!!!this is what life has for us..uncertain surprises which are sometimes painful,sometimes really pleasant…long live baby baboon..amen..:)

  97. Clara
    April 5, 2014, 11:05 am

    The lioness played with the baby baboon is not motherhood I think. She just want to save the baby for her next meal!

  98. Robert Atuhairwe in Kampala
    April 5, 2014, 9:57 am

    Do lions eat anything? We have lawyers and cops

  99. grey
    April 5, 2014, 8:48 am

    It is this species, the homo sapiens, that has isolated itself so much from Nature, that now, it can hardly imagine another animal to think the way it does – not realizing, that just like all the other animals, it itself is working around the same activities of eating, drinking, excreting, procreating……..and protecting oneself.

  100. Khan
    April 5, 2014, 8:35 am

    Sometimes we can learn alot from the wild. The gentle tenderness showed towards an outcast certainly shows that kind behavior irrespective of origins prevails and touches every observer.

    Why can’t we all be like this and get rid of prejudice and bigotry in our lives?

  101. Arjun vekariya
    April 5, 2014, 8:11 am

    Marvelous nature!!

  102. James
    April 5, 2014, 7:45 am

    What happened to mother baboon?

  103. Fightersss
    April 5, 2014, 7:01 am

    For those who are skeptical of this story: It’s not uncommon for certain animals, especially mammals, to take care of other’s babies, even if they are a different species, and adopt them, even in this extreme circumstance it could be that the lioness spared this young baboon’s life for the simple reason that these animals seem to “know” within their instinct that a young animal should be protected. This benefits mammals as a whole and the balance of the ecosystem….

  104. Omar Sunny
    April 5, 2014, 6:23 am

    I am touched!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  105. Peter Holland
    April 5, 2014, 6:07 am

    “Waiting in a nearby tree is a big male baboon, who is obviously intent on saving the baby.” How do you know that it is obvious? A clear case of anthropomorphologic dribble!

  106. Özkan
    April 5, 2014, 6:06 am

    İnsanlar hayvanlaşırken hayvanlarda insanlık dersi veriyor.

  107. Benjamin Anand
    April 5, 2014, 5:38 am

    This is really what nature is. It shows how we need to be and live in the world around us and put away racism and discrimination of color and cast. We need to Learn a lot of from our nature.. i had tears in my eyes reading this article… its really very awesome.

    you can contact me at

  108. Dilip Damodaran
    April 5, 2014, 4:35 am

    Very emotional. A lesson the human beings should learn. Now, who’s Human??? There are millions of children dying of starvation and lack of treatment across the world a small gesture of giving can do wonders.

  109. Mandume
    Walvis Bay
    April 5, 2014, 4:22 am

    Very intersting ,love its in african people and its animal

  110. kushal
    April 5, 2014, 4:06 am

    Touching!!! Lioness did understand the situation of the baboon. An animal like that can kill it within seconds but really touching

  111. rene
    south korea
    April 5, 2014, 4:00 am

    king of the jungle surrender to a baby baboon’s, it’s call of nature.

  112. P.D.Baloni
    Haridwar ,Uttarakhand
    April 5, 2014, 3:46 am

    God is great ,so heart of any mother is equally great .The great lioness and the baby baboon is the glaring and physical example of the citation and the situation of the greatness of the relation ship between the mother and the baby .

  113. Nabil Bahnoo
    United Arab Emirates
    April 5, 2014, 3:28 am

    The male Lion never do it, on the contrary it kills the prey no matter how old!
    The female expresses it’s motherhood redeems the right of survival to child baboon who lost his mother by the jaws of the same rescuer! It’s a conflict between instinct and motherhood high values…Balance of mother nature!

  114. Joahnne Bulay
    April 5, 2014, 3:28 am

    nice story, but I prefer if you catch it with your video so that I can watch it too…

  115. Gashaw
    Cape Town
    April 5, 2014, 3:24 am

    They didn’t do it for a camera unlike the so called humans who seem to act with kindness only to make a public scene. So much is going on here on this planet but we only see what we want to see.

  116. Car
    The Netherlands
    April 5, 2014, 3:24 am

    Isn’ t instinct primarily, as Well As survival? But then love and compassion…is it primarely As Well or a soft shift in evolution with animals, shifting towards an higher level in consciousness? I wonder.

  117. mukhtar Ahmed
    April 5, 2014, 3:16 am

    This is the sign that Allah has shown to us that you can’t die or survive single second before or after than the time that has set by ALLAH for every individual. This shows the existence of ALLAH, WHO is more powerful and authoritative

  118. Mmoloki Mmalane
    April 5, 2014, 2:56 am

    Y’all should visit Botswana to experience even more tourism beauty.. You wont regret it, I swear. Word is bond.

  119. Lenny Koshal
    April 5, 2014, 2:52 am

    Wow!, interesting story on how the lioness kill the mother and at the same time safe the baby.
    Then the father had never loss hopes and save the infant
    surely never say die till you die.

  120. Lenny Koshal
    April 5, 2014, 2:51 am

    Wow!, interesting story on how the lioness kill the mother and at the same time safe the baby.
    Then the father had never loss hopes and save the infant
    surely never say you are die till you die.

  121. coco
    April 5, 2014, 2:43 am

    …ma quanto è fantastico l’istinto

  122. Isabel Escalante
    April 5, 2014, 2:31 am

    Que tremenda la vida de estos animales indefensos y quede helada solo de ver estas fotos..

  123. norbu wangdi
    April 5, 2014, 2:21 am

    when animal knows about compassion then why most of our social animal act like a wild animal. world should learn from it………

  124. amliw
    hong kong
    April 5, 2014, 2:17 am

    Amazing …it’s what we called “The Beauty in the Beast”…

  125. Santhi
    April 5, 2014, 2:09 am

    This is indeed truly inspirational when you look at the lioness act and baboon’s act to save the baby baboon.For the baby baboon life is not easy to start and more to come….in the end it is survival of the fittest.

  126. Executor
    April 5, 2014, 2:00 am

    ” life is fragile and no matter how much we fight to control its outcome, all we can do is live in the moment.”
    Beah , weak words from a weak person. I bet our ancestors that fought to control the elements and the environment are twisting in their graves . No, little guy , you are not helpless in controlling things in life , and an indicator that you are human is that when things get tough , you adapt , you change the environment and the people around you to suit your needs ;)

    Btw the lioness was playing with her food , as all cats do , until it would snap that babies neck . Anyone who had/has cats knows this ….

  127. andrew habwe
    United States
    April 5, 2014, 1:49 am

    Your enemies could be your best friends, and your friends could or could’nt always be true…(where were the other monkeys?). for those that take the time to love and care for you..appreciate the relationship you have and always treasure

  128. Mathers Jafluka
    Not Toronto
    April 5, 2014, 1:49 am

    It’s really interesting to hear all these professional and semi-literate biologists expressing their scholarly opinions here. The lioness may have been conflicted between her instinct to kill and her instinct to nurture something small and helpless. Let the photographer have his opinion and let Nature take her course. Those who posted with compassion have my vote of confidence.

  129. Yahya Said
    April 5, 2014, 1:41 am

    les babouins sont toutes proche des humains incroyable

  130. achal barla
    April 5, 2014, 1:35 am

    Simply Amazing…

  131. zack
    April 5, 2014, 1:35 am

    amazing! i love nature..animals can act in an interesting way. how can they give us this kind of interesting impression..

  132. zack
    April 5, 2014, 1:30 am

    Amazing! ^_^
    i love nature..
    animal have their own instincts to live and even the lioness, how can she react in that way just like she understands the baby baboon feeling.

  133. samson salibay
    April 5, 2014, 1:19 am

    Peace and harmony between animals will soon to exist when God’s Kingdom will come here on earth. Isaiah 11:7-8. They will no longer harm with each other as well as to humans.

  134. Thomas
    April 5, 2014, 1:08 am

    That was an owesome capture,even lionesses are also caring animals even to what they consider for. Good job to the photographer.

  135. Prabal
    April 5, 2014, 1:03 am

    Heart touching true story.

  136. Nicole Norloch
    April 5, 2014, 1:01 am

    Die Natur ist immer wunderbar. Kann uns so vieles belehren. Man sollte den Tieren mehr Respekt zollen!!!

  137. Suresh Kumar R
    Mumbai, India
    April 5, 2014, 12:54 am

    Wonderful, interesting, catchy and heart touching philosophical story with amazing timely photos. Story came out nicely and make any body think twice. Very interesting…

  138. Greg
    Vashon, WA
    April 5, 2014, 12:50 am

    A good example, perhaps, that we share a lot with other creatures….we’re all made of the same stuff. Maybe it’s time we recognized that.

  139. Robson Roman
    Limeira-sp Brazil
    April 5, 2014, 12:47 am

  140. Lejfieg
    The Lioness's den
    April 5, 2014, 12:15 am

    I think we ascribe too many human emotions to what observe in the wild. I get it, it’s interesting and you have to romanticize the ordeal to get readers. But this kind if stuff confuses people. Along with Disney movies. I saw someone type “animals are more human than humans”…. WHAT? If anything this downplays our own sense of morality and gives credence to the idea that it is of natural origin. “Miracle” ?? Lee skipped over the part where she snapped the baboon’s neck. And probably didn’t eat it. It would be a miracle if the Lioness’s stood on 2 legs and began to recite Shakespeare.

  141. peabody3000
    April 5, 2014, 12:09 am

    all but conclusive: the lions, with an unspoken intuition, feel much as we. that is quite incredible to see documented so convincingly

  142. Nyron
    Trinidad and Tobago
    April 5, 2014, 12:06 am

    Since that episode “mermaids” I am sceptical about these sorts of stories, but if it genuine it is really interesting to see how different species interact when it comes to off springs.

  143. r.salman
    chennai -- india
    April 5, 2014, 12:01 am

    worth reading , long live the baby baboon

  144. Thomas Sztanek
    April 5, 2014, 12:01 am

    “No matter what,” Lisa says. “The young baboon remains an inspiration to me—and a reminder, that life is fragile and no matter how much we fight to control its outcome, all we can do is live in the moment.”

    So well said !

  145. Alex.barylski
    April 4, 2014, 11:29 pm

    Not an indiscriminate killer??? Haha…few more moments and baby would have been breakfast lol

  146. Fazlul Hoque
    Dhaka, Bangladesh
    April 4, 2014, 11:14 pm

    Love and affection prevail in all creatures. Beasts are more human than human being. We can learn from animals.

  147. Yvette
    April 4, 2014, 11:07 pm

    What a beautiful miracle ,no mater how you see it,just see it for the natural love of wildlife responding to there own.I for one feel at peace too see something so amazing!

  148. prakash
    New Delhi
    April 4, 2014, 11:06 pm

    Indeed it’s amazing,Wonderful Captures of Nature & Wildlife,very nice to know closely about it.

  149. ernesto blanco
    Toronto Canada
    April 4, 2014, 11:02 pm

    Heroic act?

  150. ernesto blanco
    Toronto Canada
    April 4, 2014, 11:00 pm

    Heroico fotografo hay que tenerla bien puesta para sacar esas fotos lo felicito gracias por hacer ver imagines increibles.

  151. Nevette
    April 4, 2014, 10:25 pm

    I’ve watched my cat gently ” play” with a mouse when out of nowhere and quite suddenly, she bite it’s head right off. Cats, domestic and wild, like playing with their prey.

  152. Atulya parashar
    April 4, 2014, 10:22 pm

    this is fantastic although a video might have been more alluring, btw this whole incidence speaks alot about astonishing mother nature could be….

  153. Michelle Vas
    April 4, 2014, 10:21 pm

    Beautiful role models for the philosophy “live and let live” – the need of the hour.

  154. allison noriega
    April 4, 2014, 10:16 pm

    That was touching iam glad the lion had a heart to save the baboon baby

  155. rose
    April 4, 2014, 10:11 pm

    It is very likely another baboon will suckle the baby, especially if her own baby died or was very recently weaned.

  156. Rhiaane2
    April 4, 2014, 9:47 pm

    I happen to think the deciding factor was in the baby baboon’s action of “suckling” have seen dogs suckle kittens/cubs. Had it been a male lion that had found the baby, it would have been “all over red rover” the power of mothering/baby instinct is incredible and it transcends species.

  157. ramakumar
    April 4, 2014, 9:43 pm

    If have videos …intestate to watch ths story of baby Boone n lion

  158. Foo
    April 4, 2014, 9:40 pm

    Can we please stop with the “upworthy”-like clickbait titles ? Is that what national geographic has become ?

    “Photographers captured a surreal encounter ” no there is nothing surreal there.

    “it was in agony watching the baby’s ordeal—and I kept on turning off the video option on my camera because it was hard to record” Seriously ? is that the first time for the photographer watching animals in the wild ? was he surprised predators do not eat can foods or are not going shopping into the vegetarian gluten-free section of the local supermarket ?

    Maybe before going into the wild the photographer could watch the very old which has already been documenting extensively the behavior with a leopard.

  159. Anna
    April 4, 2014, 9:37 pm

    Ridiculous ending to this piece. At one month of age the infant was no where near weaning (3-4 moths). It would have died after failed attempts by the troop to drag in around and look after it. That’s if they didn’t abandon it when they realised it was dying and unable to feed. Romanticised nonsense, I expect better of the National Geographic.

  160. Maria
    Porto (Portugal)
    April 4, 2014, 9:33 pm

    The Mother Nature os wonderfuul!!

  161. Duane Baker
    April 4, 2014, 9:27 pm

    I saw a cat do the same thing with a mouse once. The mouse was snuggling up to the cats chest. The cat was licking the mouse and gently pawing it as in play. The cat would run away and then play hide and seek with the mouse and run up on it nudging it with it’s nose. In the end the cat proceeded to swallowing the mouse whole. The same fate this baby baboon would have experienced if the male baboon had not saved it. It is funny how people attach their own emotions to wild animals. It really doesn’t work that way folks. You may see unusual behavior among animals in captivity but in the wild, they live by only one rule: ” Survival of the fittest”

  162. Daniel J
    S. Korea
    April 4, 2014, 9:06 pm

    No, Richard H.
    Animals do all sorts of incomprehensible activities(orcas). Some animals rape other animals for fun(sea otters), other animals kill for curiosity. Monkeys even torture and enslave dogs. There are so much more….

    April 4, 2014, 9:03 pm

    I saw a video of a similar incident of a lioness taking care of a baby wildebeest. The lioness followed the baby everywhere, separated from her pride and fought to protect the baby, until a big lion came and took the baby. The care of the lioness was amazing. However, the baby was not able to eat or drink and became very weak. So did the lioness. I wish, instead of filming it until the baby’s death, the crew could have tried to save it or at least give some water. We do lots of things against the Law of Nature. So why not do something to save a wild life. It was sickening to see a person like David Attenborough looking at the commercial aspect of a shot of a baby elephant dying instead of saving it with an excuse ‘law of the nature’.
    Just my thought.

  164. Jessé Silva
    Brasilia Df
    April 4, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Uma das histórias mais bonitas da natureza que ja vi.

  165. mojadi
    Maun, Botswana
    April 4, 2014, 8:23 pm

    Interesting… Thats what we call it bravery by the male baboon. one of the most aggresive animals and it reminds me themale Honey Badger.. mmmmmmmmh!

  166. Isabel Escalante
    El salvador centro America
    April 4, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Quisiera saber que le paso ala mama del baubino bebe?gracias.

  167. Gashaw
    April 4, 2014, 8:20 pm

    Epic! Credit to the photographers!

  168. lightperson
    April 4, 2014, 8:19 pm

    It is nice to think the lion was being loving, but I’m betting the little guy was just a “to go” meal.

  169. Mary K
    April 4, 2014, 8:05 pm

    Richard – I get it that you are being scientific but the writer was inspired here. Please allow him a moment to take from a personal experience what he may.

  170. equality
    April 4, 2014, 6:12 pm

    Animals have thoughts, wants, and feeling just like we do. This lioness knew that this baboon was not a threat, she knew that it was a baby. Im sure her maternal instincts and compassion kicked in, just the same as it would in any of us. Sure she killed the babies mother, but a lions gotta eat. That doesnt mean that shes an in-discriminatory killer. This is such a wonderful thing to see.

  171. D Nelson
    April 4, 2014, 3:57 pm

    Another question of nature vs nurture…I like what Justin P said. This really touched my heart….deep…we never really KNOW about these wonders. That’s why we call it a wonder.

  172. Erick
    April 4, 2014, 3:48 pm

    Where are the photos of the “Heroic act”????

    I think it is a good story but with no photo support

  173. Richard H
    April 4, 2014, 3:21 pm

    Pretty cool but…….it’s too easy to humanize wild animals with emotions. Wild animals will 99.9999% of the time only attack out necessity. Clearly, the baby wasn’t needed for food by the lionesses….nor posed a threat. Playing with it is sweet, but again, more due to hard wiring of the cat’s nature. Cat’s play with things that move….sometimes too hard, yes. But as mentioned, the baby was fatigued and not moving around fast and erratically. If it was, good chance cat would have played too hard. As far as defending against the males….maybe….maybe possession issue, maybe mating issue. If the lioness carried the little guy to water, or led him to the source of food (morbid thought considering), then I’d go for the thought of the lioness exhibiting a compassion towards the baby. Anyway….my point for making this comment (that many people will dismiss as taking the story too seriously) is: instead of humanizing wild animals, to some extent we humans need to learn traits from them – i.e. not taking or killing what you don’t need!

  174. Mirko Perkovic
    April 4, 2014, 9:18 am

    Mother’s instinct.Like leopard and baby baboon,or tigress and baby pigs, or lioness and calf of wildebeast, I saw erlier.It is a pity that it is not a video.

  175. Harsumit Singh Gill
    April 4, 2014, 6:12 am

    If it was a male lion, he would have been playing with the baby baboon by licking him though little harsh, trying smashing the baby under his body just to test how strong the baby is to face ordeals lol. Of-course, its mothers round the world who knows how to handle kids . Big cats are amazing.

  176. Justin Politico
    Negros Occidental, Philippines
    April 4, 2014, 3:39 am

    This is how mother nature teaches us at its best way. We humans know not of what is beyond our knowledge. We tend to think that we are the only ones capable of loving and caring but this story surely taught us on how others specifically animals can also show their affection to each other.

  177. Nelly Booth
    April 4, 2014, 3:37 am

    Would another female baboon suckle the baby?

  178. Horst Seeger
    April 4, 2014, 1:50 am

    astonishing, what can happen in Nature!

  179. Ekom
    April 3, 2014, 11:27 pm

    Chilling enough to make you hold your breath; by the time the narrative plays out, the relief is well worth it. You can now exhale my dear friends ~ Yes! Oh yes you, breathe again. Nature!
    Simply amazing.
    Thank you Paul.