Across the world people still struggle to accept those who are different, but the animal world sometimes puts us to shame. In fact, the depth of love and compassion some animals have for others outside of their species is astonishing, and the following 20 friendships are as unusual as they are heart-warming.
21. Mabel the Hen and the Puppies
If the Tate family hadn’t taken Mable the hen under their wing, she would have ended up as a chicken dinner. As it happened, though, Mable ended up roosting with the Tate’s dog’s puppies – much to the family’s surprise.
20. Bob and Friends
Instagram star Bob the golden retriever has drawn digital crowds with his gentle nature and his gang of friends, including at least eight birds and a hamster. Indeed, Bob seems quite happy with his playmates, posing with the birds and even letting the hamster balance on his nose.
19. Themba and Albert
Themba, an orphaned elephant, made big news in 2008 when he bonded with a Marino sheep named Albert at the Hamwari Rehabilitation Center. The inseparable pair did everything together – they shared walks, dust baths and even food – until Themba’s sad passing two years later.
18. The BLT: Bear, Lion and Tiger
Rescued from cages in an Atlanta basement, Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan had forged a friendship despite their mistreatment. The trio would never have met in the wild, and would likely be competitors if they did, so their brotherhood is all the more surprising.
17. Peggy, Anzac and Cupcake
Prepare for an overdose of cute. Peggy the wombat, Anzac the kangaroo and Cupcake the wallaby are three orphaned marsupials who lost their parents but found love in each others company. The fuzzy friends get along famously, but Cupcake is definitely the wild one of the bunch!
16. Sahara and Alexa
The Cat Ambassador Program proves felines and canines don’t have to fight like cats and dogs. In fact, Alexa the dog and Sahara the cheetah became close friends; their relationship helped raise money to teach farmers that guard dogs can protect cattle without harming wild cats.
15. Macaque and Dove
Deserted by his mom, this poor 12-week-old macaque was at death’s door when the Neilingding Island sanctuary rescued him. The monkey seemed heartbroken until he formed an aww-inspiring inseparable bond with a white dove, which raised his spirits and brought him hope.
14. Louise and Annie
Louise the Eurasian eagle owl and Annie the dog not only work together for Tactical Avian Predators and Raptor Adventures, but they also play together too. Indeed, Louise shows astonishing tenderness while grooming Annie with her beak and stroking Annie’s fur with her talons.
13. Manni and Candy
Manni was an abandoned, starving boar piglet when the the Dalhaus family rescued him. They fed him and gave him a home, and to their surprise the wild pig fell in love with their Jack Russell dog Candy. The two spend every day together, and Manni is reportedly even learning how to bark!
12. Charles and Baby
Cats are more likely to eat lizards than snuggle them, but not so for Baby – he loves his scaly friend Charles. Certainly, it was love at first sight for the feline and bearded dragon, and now they share nap time, bird-watching and mailman-scaring together like they were born to it.
11. Kate and Pippin
What looks like a scene from Bambi is actually a true story so heart-warming that it was turned into a children’s book. Kate, a Great Dane, took Pippin, an orphaned and nearly-starving fawn, under her maternal care, and the two remain near and deer even in adulthood.
10. Anjana and the Tiger Cubs
The Institute of Greatly Endangered Rare Species is home to a special chimp: Anjana. Indeed, she made a monkey’s uncle of her human keeper when she started looking after two white tiger cubs that had been separated from their mother. She became a surrogate mom to the cats and has also continued her care-giving role with the sanctuary’s other baby animals.
9. Bea and Wilma
A giraffe named Bea and an ostrich named Wilma at Tampa Bay’s Busch Gardens are a surprisingly amorous pair. Indeed, the two animals, both curious by nature, aren’t shy about public displays of affection. But, of course, there is a charge for admission to see them.
8. Fred and Dennis
After a fox attacked his mother, Dennis the duckling was left orphaned, but caring Fred stepped in to lend a paw. In fact, as soon as the labrador found the duck he licked him clean, an act that seemed to bond them for life and cemented Fred’s place as Dennis’ surrogate parent.
7. Cat and Chipmunk
You can imagine Reddit user _GoldGuy_’s surprise when he saw his cat sunbathing in the garden with a little furry friend nestled in its fur. Certainly, when the cat laid down for a siesta, the crazy or brave chipmunk snuggled into the kitty’s fluffy tummy for a joint nap.
6. Frog and Mouse
Photographer Azam Husain captured a moment that looks like a scene from The Wind in the Willows. That’s because mice are often a tasty meal for frogs, but in this case the amphibian put its hunger aside to ferry a washed-out rodent to safety on its back.
5. Juniper and Moose
A ridiculously happy fox called Juniper is head-over-heels in love with her housemate, an Australian shepherd dog mix called Moose. “Foxes put their butts on things they want to own or think is theirs. Moose gets sat on daily,” their human told Bored Panda.
4. Owen and Mzee
After the 2004 tsunami separated Owen from his family, he found an unconventional friendship with an Aldabra giant tortoise called Mzee at the Haller Park sanctuary. Wowing the media, they became best of pals for two years. They might have stayed friends, but Owen grew pretty big, as hippos do, and the sanctuary was worried for Mzee’s own safety, so they split apart the pair.
3. Koko and kittens
Koko the gorilla shot to fame for her apparent ability to communicate with sign language, but she is also a gentle creature with a love for cats and kittens. Indeed, she adopted several kittens and expressed sadness when they died. Afterwards, she continued to receive kitten visits from the Humane Society.
2. Gohan and Ao-Chan
Laughing in the face of the food chain, Ao-Chan refused to eat his hamster feast and allegedly befriended his dinner. The hamster earned the nickname Gohan, which roughly translates to “meal,” and cohabited with the snake for some time. But society is apparently just not ready for this type of controversial arrangement, and the mini-zoo ultimately gave the animals separate homes until its closure.
1. Bella and Bubbles
After her family were butchered by poachers in Africa, Bubbles the elephant was saved and brought all the way to Myrtle Beach Safari. There she met Bella the labrador, to whom she’s seemingly become an unlikely but adorable best bud. However, instances of inter-species friendships like this at the South Carolina-based sanctuary have brought some controversy in their wake; in particular, the safari’s pairing of an orangutan and tiger cubs has been strongly criticized by animal rights group Eyes on Apes.