04/11/2014 08:05 am ET Updated Apr 11, 2014

Lioness Has Incredible Interaction With Baby Baboon During Gripping Animal Encounter (PHOTOS)

We all know nature is a brutal place. But sometimes, you never know what's going on behind the eyes of some of the world's biggest carnivores.

During a 16-day tour of Botswana, photographer Evan Schiller captured a gripping interaction between a group of baboons and a pride of lions. After a lioness attacked and killed one of the primates, she noticed a newborn crawl out from beneath its mothers body, and what happened next shocked Schiller and his companions. His wife, Lisa Holzwarth, wrote in an account of the event to accompany Schiller's photos:

The lioness then carried the baby in its mouth (really at that moment she could have swallowed it whole without a blink of an eye) and put it down on the ground in front of her. What happened next blew our minds -– the baby, in another instinctual moment, held onto the lioness’ chest and tried to suckle ... The lioness was being as gentle as a 350 pound cat can be with a 3 or 4 pound baby baboon.

Holzwarth wrote that after a more than two-hour ordeal, the lioness had to fend off the sexual advances of some approaching males, which gave the visibly fatigued baboon's father time to snatch him back and scurry up into a tree, out of reach the big cats. And what happened to the baby?

"I like to think that the little guy survived with the help of his troop," Holzwarth said. "He was alive and safe in his father’s arms when we left and that’s how I like to remember it. No matter what, he remains an inspiration – and a reminder, that life is fragile."

Take a look at the incredible encounter below.

Lioness protects baby baboon

CORRECTION: The article originally suggested that the lioness was protecting the baboon. Upon further conversation with the photographer, the article has been revised to more accurately account for the behavior of the animals. This post also attributed the description of the animal encounter to Evan Schiller, when it was in fact written by his wife, Lisa Holzwarth.



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