By Rebecca Lewis @RebeccaSLewis

THEY say a dog is a man’s best friend – but Zion the lion begs to differ

Scroll down for the full story

Videographer / Director: Martin Harvey

Producer: Nick Johnson

Editor: Jack Stevens

The big cat, which is known for being a fearsome predator prowling the plains of Africa, has an unusual bond with his caretaker Frikkie Von Solns.

Eleven years after they first met the bond between the surrogate father and son is stronger than ever

The 69-year-old has taken care of the friendly lion since birth.

Unable to return to the wild because of his tame and friendly nature, Zion lives with eighteen other lions, as well as cheetahs and leopards

He was born to his mother, Simba, in captivity but was removed from her care after fears the father would commit infanticide.

It was left to Frikkie to care for young Zion.

Zion was born to his mother, Simba, in captivity but was removed from her care after fears the father would commit infanticide

The cub needed constant feeding every four hours and the pair even shared the same bed.

Frikkie spends his time walking through the bush with his fluffy friend
Paw-some! Frikkie walks barefoot as Zion dislikes noise

Eleven years later and the bond between the surrogate father and son is stronger than ever.

The 69-year-old has taken care of the friendly lion since birth

Frikkie spends his time walking through the bush with his fluffy friend – barefoot as Zion dislikes noise – and chauffeurs the big cat to and from hunts in the front seat of his car.

Frikkie says that Zion has never attacked a human

Unable to return to the wild because of his tame and friendly nature, Zion lives with eighteen other lions, as well as cheetahs and leopards.

Frikkie said: “Since Zion I have raised nineteen lions, and leopards and cheetahs. But he is special because of the bond we share. I learnt so much from him.

Nuzzle: Frikkie gets up close to his predator pal

“It was a great opportunity to study his behaviour and patterns.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience to grow up with him and learn and live with him through all of the stages of being a lion.

King of the beasts: Zion on a hunting trip with Frikkie

“People talk about lions like they are just lions but they have personalities, they have humour and laugh.

“Zion is a gentle giant. He has never attacked humans and I trust him completely.”

Cuddles! Frikkie embraces the 11-year-old beast
The tawny animal appears to adore his human companion