Wild Indian lioness adopts leopard cub in heartwarming show of kindness

In a story reminiscent of "The Jungle Book", a wild Indian lioness was seen having adopted a lost leopard cub alongside her two lion cubs in western India.

Forest officials observed the rare display of cross-species motherhood in the Gir forest in Banaskantha district, Gujarat state on January 4. The leopard cub, dubbed "Mowgli", was being reared and protected by a lioness now named "Raksha".

The names are taken from the famed Rudyard Kipling story "The Jungle Book", where a human child named Mowgli is adopted by a female wolf named Raksha.

Leopards and lions in India are normally understood to be hostile and it is still unclear how Raksha came to be caring for the lost cub Mowgli.

The mother lioness can be seen taking extra care of her adoptive cub, since the leopard is smaller and not able to match her pace and her cubs. She is also believed to be protecting Mowgli from male lions roaming the area that would otherwise attack the young cub.