Watch This Lion Give His Rescuer a Big Hug and Kiss (VIDEO)

Ana Julie Torres is an animal activist and schoolteacher who founded the Villa Lorena animal sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals in Colombia. Years ago, she rescued a lion named Jupiter from a circus where he was badly mistreated, malnourished and in failing health.

Today, Jupiter is a robust and healthy 550-pound behemoth, but in front of Torres, he turns into a cuddly kitten, standing on his hind legs to embrace her and lick her face.

According to The New York Times, the Villa Lorena sanctuary houses roughly 800 exotic animals including monkeys, rhinos, bears and storks; many are the rescued pets of drug traffickers and warlords, while others, like Jupiter, are saved from circuses and animal-smuggling rings.

Torres keeps her sanctuary funded with just her small teaching salary and private donations. Despite its lean budget, Villa Lorena becomes the animals' permanent home once they have arrived in Torres' care; they're never abandoned, sold or put on display.

As Torres explained to NPR, "This is not a zoo. It's a refuge, an old-age home; a hospital. [It's] a place where we love, protect, defend and respect animals."