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Watch This Heartwarming Reunion as a Proud Lioness Sees Her Old Trainer Again

Mackenzie Freeman

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With the new Lion King remake destroying box offices everywhere, we felt it was only time to take a look at real-life animals worthy of our adoration. Today, we are going to introduce you to a gorgeous lioness named Kiara and her old trainer, Adolfo. After being raised from youth by Adolfo, the two had been forced to separate. Now, years later, they are getting to share one of the most heartwarming reunions that we have ever seen. Are you ready to cry a few tears of joy? 

The King of the Jungle

Our story today is going to be focused on a lion named Kiara. Though we are focused on one individual animal, Kiara represents all of the so-called Kings of the Jungle. Now dangerously endangered, it is up to us to shine a light on their potential extinction. By sharing stories like Kiara’s, we can add a layer of empathy and humanity to one of the most misunderstood apex predators on the planet.

Importance of Lion Conservation Efforts

Right now, African lions like Kiara are considered endangered due to problems arising from habitat loss, poaching, and conflict between humans and animals. Over the last three generations, the number of living African lions have dwindled by more than 40%. What does this mean? To put things plainly, our Kings of the Jungle are in a desperate situation. Now, there are only 20,000 African lions currently in the wild.

Meet Kiara the Lion Cub

The main character in today’s story is Kiara, a little lioness. According to the latest scientific studies, there are roughly 40,000 TOTAL wild lions left on the planet. That’s right, the aforementioned African lion, which is considered vulnerable, makes up more than half of the global population. How can you look at this adorable face and wish for anything but their protection?

A Beautiful Origin Story

Kiara is a female lioness who was discovered in Mexico. She was rescued as a cub from rather mysterious circumstances. Eventually, Kiara was handed over to a shelter in Mexico where she could receive proper care and attention. During her time in the rescue in Mexico, Kiara would become close with her trainer, Adolfo. Adolfo is the second hero of our story.

Being Raised in Captivity

While we don’t know much about Adolfo or how he came into possession of Kiara, we do know that the pair became fast friends. There are plenty of photographs where Adolfo and Kiara are playing, snuggling, or otherwise relaxing in one another’s presence. It was clear to see that the two shared a real bond. Lions who are raised in captivity have the ability to socialize in a way that wild lions never do. It gives us the chance to see another side of the amazing species.

Kiara Needed a New Home

As Adolfo helped to raise and train Kiara, it became quickly apparent that she would not get to stay with him forever. Even though Adolfo had become something of an adoptive father to Kiara, he knew that she was going to need a bigger and better place to live. Adolfo had to say farewell to his growing cub and that meant that there story was coming to an end.

Saying Farewell to Adolfo

After putting the event off as long as possible, Adolfo finally said goodbye to Kiara. Adolfo shared several photos and videos to his social media account showing he and Kiara hugging. Adolfo made it abundantly clear that he would someday reunite with Kiara, though he couldn’t say when, where, or how that would happen.

Growing Apart and Forgetting Adolfo

After Kiara was transferred to another preserve, Adolfo figured that, by and large, their story had come to an end. Even if he were to come to visit Kiara, how would she remember him after being apart for so long? Would she even vaguely recognize him? After putting off the reunion, Adolfo finally gave in. He had to see if Kiara would remember him.

Until One Fateful Day….

Adolfo packed his bags and traveled to Kiara’s new home. When he arrived, it was clear that something was coming back to Kiara. The lioness paced back and forth in her enclosure as she began to sense something in the air. Was Kiara upset? Was she scared of Adolfo? Did she even know who Adolfo was?

Adolfo and Kiara Share a Moment of Uncertainty

Showcasing courage far more bountiful than my own, Adolfo eventually made his way to her enclosure. Staring at the lion from the other side of the cage had to have been nervewracking. Could you go through with stepping into the cage? Even though Adolfo had raised Kiara,  there had to be a part of him that was slightly concerned.

And Then Kiara Remembered

After a moment of hesitation, Kiara suddenly showed a surge of love and happiness. The giant lioness made her way over to her former trainer wherein she immediately leaped into his arms. The two shared a loving embrace that was impossible to deny. Kiara had remembered Adolfo and Adolfo had come back for her. If you’ve ever seen a happy housecat, you know exactly how Kiara began to behave.

Remembering One Another

Even though Adolfo had voiced concerns about her forgetting him, he had still stepped through the door and into the cage. As with any wild animal, you never know how they are going to act until you get there. The fact that Kiara had embraced Adolfo as she had, had meant that she had remembered everything about him. This was a huge moment because it said so much about both Kiara and Adolfo.

Welcome to the Pack

More than just a friend to Kiara, Adolfo became a friend to all of the other large cats at the preservation. Here we can see a stunning photo of Adolfo lounging with the big cats at the protected site. We have to imagine that if any cat had trouble with Adolfo, they’d also have trouble with Kiara.

Truth to Human and Animal Bonds

After refusing to listen to his own instincts, Adolfo was able to prove that a bond existed between himself and Kiara. The truth is that animal and human bonds can be dated back to the very origin of our civilization. There is even proof that cavemen had animal companions during their time period. Why was it so crazy for Kiara to remember Adolfo? As it turns out, this hot-button topic will be worth exploring later.

Adolfo and Kiara Go Viral

While we can debate the human and animal connection forever, we can’t ignore the fact that Adolfo’s post quickly went viral. Adolfo isn’t the first animal trainer to be embraced by his furry friend, but he definitely had the attention of the people. Adolfo’s love of Kiara isn’t weird at all when you consider that ancient Egyptians would shave their hair in order to mourn the loss of their pets.

Personification vs. Empathy

At this point in time, we have to ask ourselves about the differences between personification and human empathy. Personification entails ascribing human-like traits to non-human beings. Was Kiara remembering Adolfo in a loving way or was she remembering someone who fed and trained her? The argument has been hotly debated in the scientific community for ages.

Arguing for Animal Empathy

Some researchers and behavioral scientists believe that animals can possess empathy. If animals can be empathetic to someone, that means that they can employ a broad range of emotions in order to decide how they act. If this were to be proven, that would fundamentally change how we look at the animals in our world. What’s more, the truth of animal empathy would make extinctions all the more heartbreaking.

Is This True Love

With all of the context that we provided, it’s hard to find fault in people who want to claim that Adolfo and Kiara are in a real relationship. If Kiara has empathy and memory, then her feelings toward Adolfo are completely valid. She is no longer operating as a simple animal, she is remembering someone that she cared about. Isn’t there something heartwarming about seeing an apex predator like Kiara embrace Adolfo?

Playing With Her Family

While the emotional aspect of the experience is definitely interesting, it wasn’t the only reason that the video went viral. As Adolfo and Kiara continued their reunion, they captured amazing photos and videos of all sorts of things. Here we can see Kiara and Adolfo playing a training game. Would you have the courage to try this game?

Not All Interactions Are Friendly

While the interactions between Adolfo and Kiara are straight from a movie, not all interactions with lions are the same. Here we see Siegried & Roy, the famous Vegas performers who had incorporated a lion into their routine. While we are sure that Siegried & Roy thought they had been careful, that isn’t quite the case.

Roy Horn and the Famous Lion

In 2003 during a live show, Roy Horn was attacked by his white lion. The white lion would end up wounding Roy while simultaneously shutting the performance down for good. We have to point out that working with lions in preservations is not the same as using a wild animal for an entertaining show.

Human-Animal Bond Integral to Training

No matter what you think of lions in entertainment, the health and wellbeing of the creatures will depend on the bond that they share with their trainers. Like Adolfo, there are countless trainers working throughout the world to raise lions in a safe and humane way. Good people like Adolfo are working to preserve an at-risk species.

Scientific Controversy Swirls Around Humans and Animals

One of the most fascinating areas of research in the wildlife community centers around human emotion. More specifically, scientists are interested in whether lions can FEEL the same way that humans can. We know that their heart rate can increase and their hormones can surge in certain situations, but is there a psychological reaction, as well?

Meet the Incredible Lion Whisperer

While we aren’t going to root out answers to all of our questions, people like Kevin ‘The Lion Whisperer’ Richardson are helping us to get there. Richardson is another lion trainer who has made a name for himself for his work in South Africa. In fact, Richardson is so impressive as a trainer that he is routinely pictured cuddling with the lions that he has worked with.

Improving the Lion’s Reputation

While we must always be wary when around wild animals, the work that Richardson and Adolfo are undertaking offers us something special. People like Richardson and Adolfo are playing integral roles in changing the tide on public opinion of lions. While you should never approach a lion, you should also not fear them from the comfort of your home. 

Work of the Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation

At the Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation, people like Richardson and Adolfo are working to rescue and care for as many wild cats as they can. It was this foundation that gave Kiara a home and it will be this foundation that saves several more cats just like her. The foundation is also working to prevent as much illegal hunting as they possibly can.

Meet the Foundation’s Owner

The Black Jaguar – White Tiger Foundation was established in 2013 by Eduardo Serio. Eduardo Serio is a businessman who opted to establish the foundation due to his own affinity for wild animals. Serio launched the foundation after discovering a jaguar cub being displayed in a random pet store in Monterrey, Mexico. Serio rescued the animal before establishing a foundation in its honor. You can see the little jaguar cub pictured above.

Focusing on What is Important

You don’t have to scroll through social media for long before seeing a celebrity with a wild animal. Whether you are looking at musicians who have exotic pets or celebrities who want extra clout on Instagram, people like Serio think that these are the wrong messages to send. While we’re sure that Paris Hilton doesn’t mean anything by this photo, preservation specialists don’t want people to think of big cats as accessories.

Where Did Kiara Get Her Name

In any event, it is clear that Kiara is in a great place with great people watching after her. She even has a pretty name. In Italian, Kiara translates to ‘bright’. In Hindi, Kiara translates to ‘God’s precious gift’. We also have to mention that Kiara was the main character in ‘Lion King II: Simbas Pride’.

Staying Close to Kiara

After letting Kiara leave for her transfer, Adolfo has made the decision to stay in her life. Adolfo routinely posts videos and pictures on his social media account of the two playing together. He also celebrates Kiara’s birthday and even sends her gifts as if she were his daughter. We think that Kiara is going to be just fine.

Other Stories Like Adolfo and Kiara

While Kiara and Adolfo are the subjects of today’s story, they aren’t the first lion-trainer bond that we’ve heard of. In fact, there have been several high-profile stories surrounding lions happily reuniting with their former trainers. To learn more about this fascinating concept, we’re going to introduce you to Christian the Lion.

Meet Christian the Lion

Christian was a lion born in the Ilfracombe Zoo in Devon back in 1969. Christian had been rejected by his mother and was no longer part of the litter. As a result, Christian had to be raised in special circumstances. Eventually, Christian found his way to John Rendall and Ace Bourke. The two had wanted to save Christian, so they made him a home with the goal of returning the animal to Kenya.

Returning to Kenya

Thankfully, John and Ace realized that they shouldn’t keep the pet in London. They arranged for Christian to head home with the Kenyan Wildlife Services. With any luck, Christian would get the chance to be reintroduced to the wild in a safe and effective way. While John and Ace loved their big cat, they knew it was for the best. John and Ace would return years later to meet Christian whereupon the cat would instantly recognize them.

Support Animal Preservation

If you want to make a difference in the world, supporting animal conservation efforts is a great way to do so. The African Wildlife Foundation is dedicated to protecting and conserving as much of the lands and wildlife of Africa as possible. Their goal is to create a more sustainable future for Africa and the animals that live there.

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Animals

Who Rescued Who?

Mackenzie Freeman

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Susan Luong first discovered the power of dogs helping a patient heal, as a young child, when she was treated, in the hospital, for juvenile polymyositis. After volunteering her time at various shelters, Susan came to understand the challenges that exist with dogs who are left behind due to medical or behavioral issues. Susan’s time at the shelter taught her about patience, care, and training behavioral issues out of dogs to make them more adoptable. Her time at the shelters also fueled her desire to rescue dogs with medical, or behavioral issues–especially corgis.

Susan and her husband eventually adopted a corgi of their very own. The seller failed to tell them the corgi they adopted was not as advertised. Told the dog they were adopting was a 2-year-old corgi with no health issues, they later discovered the dog they adopted was almost a senior citizen! In addition, the dog they adopted, Oliver, was far from healthy, with a cost of nearly $2,000 for just his medical issues alone! In addition to his medical concerns, Oliver had aggression issues with Susan and her husband, other dogs, and strangers, too! Friends and family tried talking Susan and her husband into giving Oliver up, but instead, they upped their training.

Eva came to them almost two years later with similar behavior issues. Like Oliver, Susan and her husband trained Eva until they eliminated all of her aggressive behaviors. Amazingly, they trained both dogs so well, they each obtained an American Kennel Good Citizenship Award! Having successfully rehabilitated both Oliver and Eva, Susan founded Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue (QBSDR), a non-profit focused on rehabilitating corgis. Each dog that comes to the shelter is tested against her own dogs to determine its temperament. The results of that test become the foundation for each corgi’s personalized training to make the dogs more adoptable.

Adoption events, monthly hikes, community events, and even a special beach day just for corgis are sponsored by Queen’s Best Stumpy Dog Rescue. Corgi Beach Day is one of two annual events designed to educate prospective adoptees about corgis and the potential health or behavioral ailments that may occur down the road. Approximately 800 corgis hit the beach running at each of their two Corgi Beach Days — one for Northern California, and one for Southern California. Anyone wanting to adopt one of the corgis must go through a very-detailed five-part process: complete an application with as much detail as possible; answer any additional questions that QBSDR has about the application; submit to a home inspection designed to ensure no safety issues exist; come to the QBSDR facility with current pets and all household family members; and, once approved, receive whichever adoptable corgi that QBSDR feels will best suit the corgi’s needs, and the people’s personalities and lifestyles. This level of detail is very important to ensure the best possible fit between the corgi and its forever parents.

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California Sets the Pace on Store-Bought Puppies from Mills

Mackenzie Freeman

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Imagine you had your heart set on an adorable new puppy you spotted at your local pet store. They give you those charming eyes and irresistible body movements that win you over, except no matter how set you are on ‘buying’ a new dog, you need its history and background. Every pet store has to provide the origins of the pup, their breed mix, and any additional facts and information about the dog.

Full disclosure is now becoming mandatory for pet shop owners when selling any puppies that have not been born or bred in puppy mills. California is setting the pace for this practice, and hopefully more states will follow the mandatory law. When Governor Brown was still in office in 2017 he signed a bill to prevent the practice of acquiring new pups from inhumane situations be sold at their stores. The law went into effect in October of this year, 2019.

What are the details?

The large-scale operations where most of the pet store puppies arrive from are less than humane. For instance, conditions at most puppy mills are so unsanitary that dogs sit in cramped cages, their treatment is borderline abusive, and its sad. Most breeders are concerned about one thing: profit. They push out dog after dog in an effort to increase their bottom line, only to have the original mother of the pups overwhelmed and possibly contracting illnesses. 

Every breeder is different. Oftentimes, their intentions to sell high quality dogs to people are sound and true, yet once they decide to attract the pet store owners with the “reject” puppies, the pet shop receives the undesirables and tries to sell them at top dollar. Instead of placing the extra or unwanted pups in a shelter, the breeders go straight to the pet stores.

Well, all of that is changing in California. No longer will one of the estimated 10,000 puppy mills in the United States be able to sell to pet shop owners. The ban is now in effect. Every dog, cat, rabbit, or other exotic animal sold in pet stores must be obtained from shelters or rescue organizations.

It’s a giant step forward for animal activist groups, who have been pushing for this measure for several years. The Humane Society, PETA, and the national ASPCA support the bill and its verbiage. Banning breeders is not without controversy however, as the Pet Industry Advisory Council (who opposes the bill) feels it may put several breeders out of business altogether. Their worry is how the new legislation may put well-intended breeders in an evil light, also claiming the bill removes consumer protections.

Where do we go from here?

Since California tends to set the tone for many environmental causes and issues people mostly care about, the new law has pros and cons for all concerned. If there are responsible and humane private breeders willing to comply, they’re also able to continue selling puppies to private citizens desirous of a healthy breed and who doesn’t believe the price tag is over their budget.

A direct sale of puppies to pet stores isn’t in the offing anymore, and those breeders who have amassed a multi-dimensional business have to go elsewhere to direct their sales. California is the first state to enact this law, however more states are beginning to follow suit. Eliminating puppy mills within its borders is a celebration for shelters and rescue organizations as well. 

If the trend continues, no longer will puppies have to sit for days on end in awful conditions. They are saved!

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Popular Mini Horse Cheers Up Children at Local Children’s Hospital in Michigan

Leslie Tander

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Nobody enjoys being in the inpatient unit of a hospital and for children, this experience can be downright scary. Fortunately, there are lots of volunteers who donate their time to help children make this experience just a little bit easier. Some volunteers dress up in costumes to help children who are having a rough time. Others might show up bearing gifts that can help children get through their stay. Other volunteers play musical instruments, trying to cheer up the kids. Sometimes, help comes in the form of a popular animal. Kids love animals and Fred the Mini Horse is one of the most popular guests at the local Michigan Children’s Hospital.

Horseback riding is a great activity both recreationally and competitively; however, even being around a horse can place a smile on someone’s face. This is what happened from Fred the Mini Horse showed up at the local Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fred the Mini Horse was instantly the star of the show when he arrived. This tiny horse belongs to an organization called Little Horses Big Smiles. This is a nonprofit organization that operates out of Fremont, MI. This organization is dedicated to training and providing mini horses for a variety of purposes. In this case, Fred the Mini Horse is training to be a dedicated service animal who can help people all over the pace. Fred the Mini Horse did exactly that when he made his way around the floors of the local children’s hospital. The nonprofit organization has already spent a lot of time with the children’s hospital, knowing that there are lots of patients there who could use a little bit of extra love and attention. It turns out the animals from this organization, such as Fred the Mini Horse, make appearances about once per month. Those who work at the nonprofit also love their work. They say there is nothing better than putting a smile on the faces of children who need it most. Fred the Mini Horse is happy to provide this opportunity.

Fred the adorable Mini Horse makes his way around the floors in a great costume. He wears shoes over his hooves in an effort to protect the floors from harm. In addition, Fred the Mini Horse also wears a vest that clearly marks him as a therapy animal. Fred the Mini Horse is about 14 months old, which is about the same age as many of the children he sees at the hospital. Parents and children from all over the hospital echoed these sentiments, knowing that Fred provides an opportunity for kids to put their illnesses on the backburner for just a few minutes as they interact with the loving animals. Even the parents enjoyed meeting Fred the Mini Horse. The parents go through a difficult time in the hospital as well. The opportunity to leave the room and be interactive is a welcome break for many families.

In addition to the children’s hospital in Grand Rapids, Fred the Mini Horse also makes visits to other local children’s hospitals in the surrounding area. There are lots of children who are going through a hard time and could use a lift. This is the goal of Fred and the other animals at this local nonprofit. In the future, other animals might also visit the hospital as well. This isn’t just a welcome break for the children. The hospital staff often interact with the animals as well, looking for a quick break from their demanding jobs.

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