Cameron, a lion, and Zabu, his tigress, can’t help but stand out a little.
After all, Cameron is a male lion who lost his mane, and Zabu is a white tiger. They’re Big Cat Rescue’s resident odd couple and their love story is one for the ages.
Today, they live together in a large enclosure made just for them at the Florida-based rescue, but that wasn’t always the case.
Cameron and Zabu were born at a roadside zoo in New England in 2000, fated for only one purpose – to one day breed in the hopes of producing ligers, according to the rescue. In 2004, the pair was rescued from the zoo.
Cameron was 200 pounds underweight for a lion his size and age.
Zabu, a Siberian-Bengal hybrid, had a genetic flaw due to breeding – she had a shortened upper lip, which left her teeth exposed and vulnerable.
In the hands of the rescue, however, the two animals were finally safe from any further mistreatment or exploitation.
More importantly, the rescue saw how bonded the couple was and knew they had to be kept together.
“Because Cameron’s behaviors were testosterone-driven we had only two choices; separate him from Zabu forever or neuter him,” the rescue writes. “The decision was easy.”
After Cameron was neutered, he lost his glorious mane, but it was a small price to pay to keep him happy and close to his (very demanding) wife.
“While Cameron tries to sleep most of the day away (as lions do in the wild), Zabu is extremely energetic and is always pestering him to play,” the rescue writes.
But it seems Cameron is capable of keeping his favorite tigress and best friend just as content by showering her with licks, cuddles, or affectionate nuzzles. Even after all this time, their relationship has remained strong.