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JOHANNESBURG — A male baboon carrying and grooming a lion cub is an unusual sight, yet it happened over the weekend in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.

The baboon took the cub up into a tree and preened it as if it were its own, said safari operator Kurt Schultz, who in 20 years had never seen such behavior.

“The baboon was grooming the lion cub as if it was a baby baboon,” Schultz said in an email to The Associated Press. “Male baboons do a lot of grooming but the care given to this lion cub was the same care given by a female baboon to one of her own young.”

Schultz said he saw a troop of baboons acting excited and animated on Saturday, in an area where large cats are known to hide their cubs when they have to leave them. Schultz believes the baboons found the cub and began fighting over him.

Sadly, Schultz said the young cub — who looked dehydrated — will probably not be returned to its pride.

Schultz and park guests on safari took photos and video of the rare sight:

Some Twitter accounts, including AP, made a comparison between the sight and a famous scene from Disney’s “Lion Ling,” when young Simba was presented to the other animals by a baboon named Rafiki from atop Pride Rock.

Limpopo Tourism:

@andreaj0103 thought it was “sweet”:

AP labeled the sight an “oddity”:

User @wolf_reen wrote, “Have you seen anything like this? Male baboon steals a Lion cub In the kruger national park, then grooms and [carries] and cares for the cub as if it was a young Baboon.”

“A baboon adopted a lion cub in South Africa,” AJ tweeted. “But this might not be a cute “Lion King” moment. The safari guide who saw them says it was probably kidnapped and its pride may have a difficulty finding them: ‘I don’t see a chance of this poor cub surviving.'”

This tweet from 13 News Now also references the “Lion King.” They tweeted: “Circle of Life: Male baboon carries, grooms lion cub in South Africa.”

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