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Meet the animal lover who’s best friends with a 550-pound lion

George loves to be pampered and Shandor massages, brushes his hair and plays with him at least once a day.

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Video grab of Shandor Larenty and George the Lion. (Shandor Larenty via SWNS)

By Leo Black via SWNS

Meet the animal lover who is best friends with a 550 pound LION.

Shandor Larenty, 27, and George have been BFFs for ten years and he grooms, plays - and even cuddles him - daily.

The pair first met when Goerge was born at the Lion and Safari Park in Gauteng, South Africa, where Shandor works as the head of animal husbandry.

@shandorlarenty The best way to end the day! George 🦁🧡 #georgethelion #shandorlarenty #wildlife #safari #mypride #southafrica ♬ All My Loving - Sam Fischer

George, now 10, has grown from a tiny cub to the head of his own pride, but he always makes time for Shandor.

"It's like watching a child grow up, or a younger sibling grow up, and it's exactly the same feeling," Shandor said.

"George is similar to me in the sense that while he's social, he also likes to be alone a lot. It's amazing to see that when I arrive he'll leave the rest of the pride and walk over.

"I can thinks of times in my life where I was really struggling and the animals really helped me."

And George chooses to spend time with Shandor as much as the other way around.

"They have good days and bad days just like us. If I go in there and he doesn't come running up, then I know it's not going to happen," Shandor said.

George loves to be pampered and Shandor massages, brushes his hair and plays with him at least once a day.

"He absolutely loves the fly repellent we make for him. He rolls around like a little kitten, and it's his favorite time to get a massage, or a foot rub, he loves it," Shandor said.

"But I always used to say, at the end of the day, their natural instinct kicks in, so if one lion has a go at you, the others join in.

"I was with George's son, who's part of the pride, and they have two growls. On that day the growl was really not happy, and he just walked up to me and growled like that and out of the blue he came running at me.

"From the left hand side came George's lioness who grabbed him and from the right hand side George came running and knocked me to the side and grabbed him.

"It gave me time to get away."

Shandor and George have become TikTok sensations and their videos regularly receive hundreds of thousand of views.

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