There’s a lion in the lounge and he’s just pounced on the guests: At home with the woman who rescues big cats and treats them as pets
Most people would be terrified to find a lion snoozing in their bed.
But for guest house owner Annel Snyman, snuggling up to Timba the white lion cub in her home is part of her daily routine – just like walking the dog.
Annel shares her home near Bela Bela in the Waterberg region of South Africa with the eight-month-old friendly feline after adopting him in March this year.
Annel Snyman has a rather unusual house guest in eight-month-old white lion cub Timba
The guesthouse owner is unfazed by having a big cat in her bed – he’s not the first wild animal she’s adopted
The cub is free to roam around the house and clambers on the kitchen worktop as he joins Annel for a snack
She says the cub is house-trained and likes to help himself to food from her kitchen and helping out with household chores.
Timba, who could reach 180 to 225kg when he is fully grown, happily joins Annel’s dog Diesel on his walks.
But any potential partners might be frightened off – as Timba sneakily wedges himself between his carer and her guests.
The 30-year-old says: ‘Relationships can be a challenge though, as there are often some jealousy issues about who is going to snuggle up with who on the couch.
‘It normally ends up with me on one couch with Timba snuggled up on my lap and the other person on the other couch or outside looking rather concerned.
Annel also has a pet dog Diesel who doesn’t mind sharing his owner with the adorable new arrival
Luckily for Annel, her pet dog Diesel gets along with Timba and they happily go for walks together
Annel enjoys a playful moment with Timba (up) as they fool around with an umbrella while (down) they have a more tender moment as she kisses him on the head
‘This is something that Timba has mastered perfectly. He’s fantastic at subtly shifting his way onto the couch between myself and whoever may be sitting next to me.
‘If only every father could have a lion to keep the boys away from their daughters.’
Annel’s friends and family are now used to her unconventional house guest, while the neighbours are amazed by the spectacle of a white lion and woman living side-by-side.
She said: ‘Family and friends have all had to adjust to the occasional tackle by a large cat while visiting.
‘They’ve also gotten used to having him investigating their coffee or any other sweet items they happen to have.
‘The neighbours are all amazed by him and I often see them driving past and slowing down to catch a glimpse.’
Timba is the latest of Annel’s animal adoptions – she has hand-reared wild animals since 2009
Annel’s move into animal adoption began six years ago when her parents helped her to open Loebies Guestfarm on her land.
She adopted farm animals to make the place more appealing and applied to the Department of Nature Conservation for a permit to keep and raise wild animals.
Since 2009, fearless Annel has hand-reared a cheetah cub, five lions, a white lion, a leopard and six Serval kittens – a medium-sized African wild cat.
She said: ‘For me, working with these animals was therapy and unbeknown to me at the time, the start of a whole new passion and path that my life was soon to take.
‘This was quite a challenge but the first wild animals I cared for were my children and my life.’
Eventually, it became too hard to say goodbye to the animals she had raised and Annel applied for a permit to keep predators permanently.
Annel admits it’s not always easy to live life with a four-legged friend around.
She said: ‘While most people are amazed, this has become my life and part of who I am.
‘There are times when it is difficult to do day-to-day things but I do manage to live a normal life – well normal for me anyway.’