A mama can never get over the pain of suddenly losing all of her babies at the same time. Sadly, this occurs a lot in tough wildlife. Many of them are unable to cope with such grief. As for this young lioness in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, she has chosen to fill the gap in her life by taking care of a very special kitten of a completely different species.

Not long after a male lion killed all of her young cubs, the heartbreaking lioness was spotted adopting a springbok and raising him as her own. Photographer Gordon Donovan was one of the few lucky visitors who got the chance to witness their heartwarming moments together.

At first, he thought that little springbok was nothing but her prey (which he’s supposed to be in fact), but what happened next really amazed the 53-year-old man. Not only did she gently played with him, hugged him and licked him, she also protected him from other hungry lions around.

“It was a bizarre yet stunning sight to behold,” Donovan said. “I was excited about the lions, and when she captured the springbok I was waiting for the kill. But it never came and started cleaning the calf. That’s the mysterious way of nature, never knowing what will happen next.”

Donovan had travelled from New York to this beautiful country, and I’m sure he won’t be disappointed after such an incredible journey. Wildlife photographers spend their lifetimes searching for incredible shots, but not every one of them is able to see what they are looking for.

“These are the moments I seek when I go to Africa,” Donovan continued.