They left a dog in the lion cage – what happened next shocked everyone

    Most often, we say that humans are dogs’ best friends, but how about other animals? Can dogs form connections and build friendships with other animals that are not their kind? Maybe, maybe not. What happened in this cage with a dog and a lion locked inside was totally unexpected.


    After tigers, lions are the second largest members of the feline family, and Savannah is a lion that has grown enough to terrify any animal in the jungle and secure prey for himself. He is an adult lion that weighs about 226 kilos. To be bold and courageous was an understatement about what visitors at the zoo thought about the dog found in a face-off with him inside the cage. Of course, they all had their expectations, and it simply was that Savannah would think this was his lunch and shred it into pieces but who would enjoy this sight? No one.


    Let’s take a brief look into the average everyday life of a ‘king of the jungle.’ Females of this species carry out the hunt, whose males often weigh more than 200 kilograms. To catch larger prey, they live in groups. Males serve as guardians and are in charge of everything to keep the herd safe.

    lion walking

    With their super strength that can go as fast as 80km/h, these speedy cats chase their prey and go on at it like their life depends on it(it does anyway, no food means starvation, oops..!). If they get close enough to the prey, which they usually do, the lion will swoop down on it or attempt to knock it down and finally slam the victims’ heads against the wall or choke it to death with their teeth clamped around its throats(pretty brutal and badass right, we know). Now, with that inborn instinct of a fierce lion, Savannah started to follow the innocent dog around within the cage.

    lion with mouth open

    As usual, no trespasser should outdo himself in a lion’s territory expecting to come out unscathed, and so when Savannah got closer and closer to the dog, we knew death was impending on the poor creature. This setting was not in a zoo, but a cage didn’t seem like it would make any difference. So what eventually took the suspecting zoo visitors by surprise?

    lion sitting on sand

    What can we say about the dog? Well, Axel is the unlucky eight-year-old Dachshund or ginger tabby, and he was mostly at the zoo to interact with children. Unlike Savannah, this poor dog was definitely not a hunter and lacked all the instincts the lion had. What’s more? The dog’s small size restricted his movement in this life-threatening situation. The encounter with the lion became much more horrifying as a result of this, and Savannah could literally sense his fear.

    dog looking up

    But then, if we look at the early life of Savannah as well, it was in no way smooth or rosy. He was born with a bone condition that rendered him crippled. Even though metabolic bone problems, such as traumatic bone injuries, are not rare, they remain one of the most painful and long-term diseases that can affect an animal. This was the main reason Savannah was slower than an average lion. However, this bone disease doesn’t affect the mindset or stomach of a lion, and so he was still at it, going after its prey.

    dog and lion together in a cage

    Still, on the story of Savannah, he had also formed a sort of close connection with the Zookeeper. This relationship has transformed into a beautiful friendship with this man who is kind of a celebrity. John Rein also suffered a life-changing health challenge when he lost both his legs to a base-jumping accident.

    man sitting with lion close to a cage

    The popular Netflix series “Tiger King,” about the colorful lives of zoo owner Joe Eric, featured John Rein as one of the key protagonists. The world of feral cat breeders is explored in this series and Joe Eric’s dispute with Big Cat Rescue and Carole Baskin. John, who also works at the zoo, has been watching the series with bated breath, and He had a few words for his former employer.

    man holding a tiger

    Although John Rein enjoyed working for zoo owner Joe Eric, his relationship with him ended when Joe went insane following his divorce from his wife. She married a new spouse a few months later, and Joe began frantically putting his plans to beat his rivals into action. You’d never imagine the nefarious schemes he devised.

    zookeeper backing a cage with lion inside

    The transformation in Joe’s personality had made working for and with him a terrible experience for all his workers. He had evolved into not merely a mess-loving but also a nasty boss. John Rein had been on the receiving end of all this at the zoo and had experienced horrible events. On one of the occasions, one of his coworkers lost his arm after being bitten by a lion. However, what one would consider the most tragic event was when Joe’s wife inadvertently fired the revolver she was pointing at him and killed herself. Joe didn’t even need a break to get over this. He was moving straight on to his next scheme.

    zookeeper giving milk to a tiger

    Joe was planning on hiring a hit guy to assassinate his rival. His intentions, however, were discovered by the authorities, and he was arrested and sentenced to 22 years in prison. John Rein, his former employee, had already cut off all communication with Joe, the zoo owner who also owned Savannah. But Rein was well aware that this wasn’t the last he’d hear from Joe Eric.

    man sitting in a cabin

    After his base jumping disaster in 1994, John Rein acknowledged that he was always attracted toward the wilderness. He crushed both his legs after falling 17 meters from a defective trap door. He now devotes his life to lions and their canine companions. It’s also worth noting that he is responsible for the dog that breached the lion’s cage.

    man sitting near cat and lion playing

    After losing his legs, John Rein struggled to find work, but he joined the GW Zoo in the spring. After Joe’s sentence to prison, his zoo business couldn’t continue. Joe’s family shut it down, and different zoos bought the animals. Somehow, the zoo that hired John Rein were the new owners of Savannah and John, and the lion recognized each other at first sight. But it didn’t take long till this compromising situation happened again.

    man in front of a car smiling

    In addition to watching the lions in the zoo, John Rein was in charge of the park’s dogs too. The dogs, according to Rein, were looking at him. Axel, a dog, initially recognized that John was experiencing difficulties and hung out with him. Between them, an unexplainable bond emerged. As a result, Rein was taken aback when Axel entered the lion’s cage.

    dog looking up

    Fortunately, the animals got along very well, contrary to expectations! In fact, the crippled lion and his unexpected sausage pal became friends when the lion was only a baby, and their affection has never faded. They hugged, ate their steak, and played in the garden together as they pleased. John Rein fed the lion with his hands.

    man holding lions mane

    I’d expect the astonishment on anyone’s face once they hear that John could be that close to a fully grown lion without getting harmed. John Rein learned he could rear animals after losing his legs in the base jumping accident. As a result, he created a special bond with the zoo’s wild cats, which he maintains to this day. Every day, his family and dogs assist him in caring for their animals as they can see how passionate he is.

    man playing with a two dogs and a lion

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