A photographer has captured an intimate portrait of two male lions who appeared to be attempting to mate at a wildlife park in Doncaster.
The photographs were taken moments after one of the Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s adult males pinned down another in an apparent bid to mate with him, while a lioness was lying nearby.
The spectacular display was witnessed by amateur wildlife photographer Russ Bridges who took photographs of the act as it progressed.
Mr Bridges, from Rotherham in South Yorkshire, said: “There are two males and a female in that pride. One of the lions suddenly got up, walked over and jumped on his friend's back.
“A fair few people were watching this going on and laughing - they were all commenting on what it looked like.
“I think it was a bit of a 'should have gone to Specsavers' moment as the lioness was just lying there next to them.
“In fairness though, every time a male went near her she snarled and swiped their faces with her paw.
“It's not really unusual for them to act that way sometimes. I don't know if it's a dominance thing or something like that - it looks as if they are aggressive, but it's all play between friends.”
Mr Bridges, 42, said he'd photographed lions at the wildlife park before but it was the first time he'd seen them engaging in this particular kind of behaviour.
He said: “Usually they lay asleep doing nothing when I go to photograph them, but this time they were up and about.
“My favourite shot is the one where he appears to be sticking his tongue out.
“I've never seen a shot of two males on top of one another with one sticking his tongue out before - it's like he's showing some pride in what he's doing.”
He added: “I absolutely adore animals, I can't even bring myself to kill a fly or a spider, and love the conservation work that the park [does].”
Additional reporting by Helen Le Caplain
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies