It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Well, not literally, but competition and rivalry within the animal kingdom is fierce and generally keeps animal friendships within a species. Sometimes, a remarkable animal transcends the bounds of its biology and finds love in another species all together. We’ve all heard of common animal friendships such as between a dog and a house cat or a donkey and a duck; the friendships on this list are exponentially more bizarre, more unusual, and more unexpected.
These animal friendships are heartfelt and genuine – often between animals who are normally enemies. Could you ever imagine a dog and an elephant being the best of playmates, held together by their love of water? Or a tortoise who sheltered a baby hippo, starting an instant bond? Maybe you’ll fall in love with the story of the chimpanzee and her baby tigers. Or maybe what will do you in is the tale of a dog and his dolphin friend who swim in the sea for hours on end. All in all, the stories on this list are sure to tug at your heart strings and make you go “aww”, so check out these 25 Unlikely Animal Friendships That Are Just Too Adorable.
Featured image used with permission from Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
Size doesn't matter for friends
Bella the black Labrador was abandoned by her owner while he built a pool at the Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. Bella quickly forgot about the dirtbag after meeting her new – and much bigger – friend Bubbles, an African elephant. The two quickly bonded over their love of water and can often be seen playing in the pool. Bella uses Bubbles as a diving board, climbing atop the elephant’s back before jumping into the water.
Rex and the roo
Baby kangaroos – known as joeys – are pretty close to their mothers (literally). After passing by a dead kangaroo in Australia, pointer dog Rex investigated her pouch and found a joey curled up inside. His paternal instincts kicked in and he carried the baby back home. As the roo grew, Rex nurtured him, playing and hopping around the garden together.
Lions, tigers and bears, oh my!
This story of an unusual animal friendship has a much happier ending than the book Life of Pi. Appropriately named, Baloo the bear, Shere Khan the tiger, and Leo the lion were discovered when Atlanta police raided a local drug baron’s home. The trio – only cubs at the time – were moved to Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary and kept together rather than separated. These three adorable behemoths can still be seen cuddling and playing together.
Lammie the sheep and her rhino sons
Poaching in southern Africa has claimed the lives of countless elephants and rhinos, some of them mothers. After South African rhino Gertjie’s mother was taken by poachers, he fell into depression. After trying multiple ways to calm the beast, handlers found that a female sheep named Lammie took the creature many times her size under her wing, caring and supporting him and his brother Matimba as if they were own children.
The doberman and the badger
Badgers are known for being fierce fighters when put up against the wall. Not so for an orphaned and malnourished baby badger. After one dog found the cub, he brought it back to his family which gave it to an animal sanctuary. At the sanctuary, local dog Murray adopted the baby badger as one of her own.