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We're loving lions: How a cuddle with a big cat helped a thrill-seeking double amputee live on the wild side


Double amputee John Reinke has an amazing ability and can cuddle big cats including seven-foot male lion Bonedigger

Lions and tigers aren’t usually the sort of animals you’d want to get close to, but that’s exactly what double amputee John Reinke likes to do.

In fact, he’s discovered an incredible ability to get so close to such animals that he can cuddle them. He only released his sensitive skill after a bungee jump accident caused him to lose both legs.

The dad-of-two has a particularly special bond with Bonedigger, a seven-foot male lion, who like John also suffers from a disability due to brittle bones.

Cub love: John says of his disability: 'Bringing up Bonedigger and Tony helped me recover'

‘Bonedigger won’t act like this with anyone else,’ says John as he sits with the 320lb lion draped across his lap. ‘He never shows me aggression at all.

‘When I am having a bad day with my legs, just being with him makes me feel better.
‘I know he knows that we are both disabled.’

John, 43, first came into contact with the big cat through his work at the G.W Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. He bottle-fed Bonedigger, now 18 months old, from birth, and the pair are now the closest of pals.

Speaking about this special bond John added, ‘He’s like a dog and when he hasn't seen me for ages he gets all excited and runs up to me.’

Nothing about the relationship between the pair is normal; Bonedigger was hand-reared by John along with a tiger named Tony.

Father-of-two John lost his legs as a result of a bungee-jumping accident

‘They used to live with me in the house. I raised them both with bottled formula and raw meat until they grew too big for the house,’ said John.

And even though they’ve moved out Tony and Bonedigger aren’t far from John - the cats share an enclosure next to the house John usually lives in with the other keepers.

‘Tony is perfectly healthy, but is a bit too playful. When Bonedigger senses that I am losing control of the play, he snarls at Tony and you can tell he is being protective and telling him to stop.’

Bonedigger, a seven-foot male lion, also suffers from a disability due to brittle bones

John, who works at the GW Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, bottle-fed Bonedigger from birth

Bonedigger was hand-reared with a tiger named Tony, and the pair of big cats now have a joint enclosure next to the house shared by John, the owner and other keepers

John is currently at home in Texas with his family as he undergoes further medical treatment for his legs and shoulder but that won’t be the last of his time with the big cats.

While John is away park staff are looking after Bonedigger and Tony. But everyone is looking forward to the return of their inspirational keeper as clearly John is irreplaceable.

But John isn't the only person with this unique talent to cuddle big cats, Traudi Riegger shares a special relationship with Zuba, a rate African white lion.

Dubbed, the Lion Queen, Traudi can happily pose with her arms inside the 14-stone lion's jaws. This pair formed their rare bond from Traudi's work at Mystic Monkeys & Feathers wildlife park in Limpopp, South Africa.

Three's no crowd: When Bonedigger senses John is losing control of the play, he protectively snarls at Tony and tells him to stop

On the prowl: John Reinke isn't the only one who can cuddle up close with the king of the jungle, Traudi Riegger shares a close bond with two-year-old Zuba, a rare African white lion

source :dailymail