Bonedigger the lion may be 500 pounds, but he's a softie at heart.
When Bonedigger was a small cub, it was discovered that he suffered from a metabolic bone disease that would leave him disabled for the rest of his life. He was brought to Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park, and caretakers were determined to give him a life full of enriching opportunities. That's when they had an unconventional idea.
Lions are social animals that live in large prides in the wild. Interacting with their pride-mates is an important part of their emotional well-being, and no one wanted Bonedigger to miss out on those opportunities. So they introduced him to a few friends. There aren't many other lions in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, but there are plenty of wiener dogs.
Bonedigger was instantly attracted to the group of four Dachshunds, but not in the way you might expect. Instead of seeing them as his next meal, the lion cub found four new playmates. Bonedigger eventually grew into a 500-pound Goliath of a cat, but that didn't change the friendship between him and his dogs.
The pack of unconventional friends grew up together, and they've since garnered national attention for their unique relationship. Joe Exotic TV on YouTube has been sharing videos of the pack's antics for years. Exotic told TODAY back in 2013:
"The dogs thought it was just a big puppy and have loved each other since."
One of the most popular videos shows one of the dogs giving the big cat a good teeth cleaning.
Bonedigger has never hurt any of the dogs, and he's extremely protective of his Doxie brothers. Exotic said:
"You do not ever want to take his dogs out of the yard. It makes him very mad. They sleep on top of him."
The unlikely friendship inspires the park's manager, John Reinke, to recognize the good in life. Reinke lost both legs in a bungee jumping accident, and feels a special connection with the disabled lion as well as the dogs that accepted him despite his differences.
Garold Wayne Interactive Zoological Park is on a mission of conservation, and if you'd like to help, visit their website to find out how.
What do you think of Bonedigger and his little dog friends? Let us know in the comments below.
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