Decorated WW II Veteran Loves Animals. Watch Emotional Moment His Dream Comes True


When I think about animals I want to cuddle with, koalas are probably the first ones that come to my mind.

They are just so cute and fuzzy, that I feel like I would make a perfect tree for them to fall asleep against.

Realistically, that’s probably not safe for the animal or human, but it is something that many people think about.

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Cuddling with lions, on the other hand, does not sound as safe. But one decorated World War II veteran got to do exactly that.

An avid animal lover, 92-year-old Jim founded the Saint John Ambulance Therapy Dog Movement and spent years visiting people in the hospital with his furry friends by his side.

Jim’s friend Dave showed the elderly man a picture of himself with a lion cub, and Jim told him that he would love to meet a lion someday.

A local wildlife facility worked to make sure Jim’s dream came true. He was invited to be a guest of honor as a thank you for his service.

They placed him under a tree and told him to wait for a “little surprise.” Before he knew it, a large lion came out and sat at his feet.

The jungle cat looked up at him and then climbed up onto his lap, licked his cheek and wrapped its large paws around the veteran for a hug.


The lion climbed back down and lay at Jim’s feet, who, in return, reached down to pet the large animal and gently spoke to it.

Next, Jim got to hold and cuddle a little lion cub. He loved on the little fur ball and kissed its head for the better part of an hour. The cub was so comfortable that it drifted off to sleep in Jim’s arms.

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The veteran did eventually have to hand the cub back. “This is a day I will never forget,” Jim said with tears streaming down his cheek.

Sadly, Jim passed away a few months after his meeting with the lions, but one of his last conversations was about that day and his connection with the animals. It is clear the animals loved him as much as he loved them.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith