When we think of lions, a few stereotypes typically come to mind. Known as the “king of the jungle,” they’re often thought of as fierce, proud, and aggressive.
However, a certain lion at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park is breaking those stereotypes.
The wildlife refuge, located in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, is home to over 1,400 animals. It was founded in 1997 by the Schreibvogel Family of Springer, Oklahoma in memory of their late son.
The goal of the organization is to help people “learn and feel the bond that we share with these amazing creatures every day,” by allowing guests to interact with the exotic animals. It’s currently run by Joseph Maldonado aka Joe Exotic, who made a bid for president in the 2016 election.
Living at the park is Bonedigger, a large Barbary lion, and his best friend … Abby, the wiener dog.
Yup, you read that right. While other big cats may view the tiny dachshund as a potential snack, to Bonedigger, Abby is his soulmate.
“I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything like this bond,” says John Reikene, park manager, in a video by Love Nature. “They’re always just loving on each other.”
While Bonedigger gets along with all four of the dachshunds living at the park, the bond between him and Abby is extra special. The two childhood friends were introduced to one another when they were around six to nine weeks old, and it was love at first sight—from then on they were inseparable.
“The most amazing thing is definitely the bond that they’ve built,” Reikene adds.
Contrary to what you’d expect between a lion and a dog, Bonedigger and Abby have their own, unique relationship dynamic. Despite her small size, Abby isn’t afraid of Bonedigger—most likely due to the wiener dog’s big nerves and lack of self-awareness.
“I’ve never been in fear while I’m in there, and the wiener dogs have never been in fear while they’re in there,” says Reikene.
According to the park manager, one minute Bonedigger will be chasing the dogs around, and the next minute the dogs will be chasing him.
“They reverse roles.”
This unusual friendship between Bonedigger and Abby reminds us that outer appearances shouldn’t matter when making friends, and to not judge a book by its cover.