updated 12/27/2011 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 12/28/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
There’s a Ke$ha in South Africa who is even more of an animal than the colorful pop star.
She’s a lion cub named after the singer and living in the Ukutula Lion Park & Lodge, where the human Ke$ha recently spent a few days helping to rehabilitate the big cats.
Ke$ha traveled by plane, boat, bus and foot to get to the game farm outside Johannesburg, but the trek was well worth it.
“Helping to rehabilitate an orphaned lion cub was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” she tells VanityFair.com, adding that the research team there named the cub after her. “Being with animals re-energizes me, and this trip just reminded me how important it is for me to do everything in my power to help protect them.”
Though she became close with the feline, their goodbye wasn’t a sad one.
“I was glad to leave my lion, because an animal like that should live in the wild,” she says. “Keeping it confined is really just inhumane. Hopefully she will be back roaming freely on the nature preservation soon.”