As humans, we try to be careful about who and how we pick our friends. We learn this at an early age, and try our best to make sure we’re choosing friends with the same values and goals, as well as someone who lift us up. You try hard to make sure you show your friends the best of who you are, and hope they let their true colors shine bright too. Overall, picking and making friends can be a hard affair.
For animals, given the right scenario, they get to skip all the games we humans play. They see straight to the greatness of each other’s hearts. Granted, just like finding your own best friend, animals have to be given the right opportunity to get to know each other and bond. When this happens, it’s one of the most beautiful things we can see. It provides hope and inspiration that maybe one day we’ll be able to be just as blind to what the outside looks like and just see the beauty within.
Here are 20 animal friendships to help brighten your day.
This South African Labrador, Lisha, is well known for her mothering skills at the Oudtshoorn’s Cango Wildlife Ranch. Over the years, she’s bridged the trust gap between cheetahs, pot-bellied pigs, a pygmy hippo, a barn owl, and (more recently) these two tiger cubs.
Meet Indigo and Poldi, a friendship which warms your heart to no end. Indigo, the shepherd, and her little owl friend were captured in this photo series by photographer, Tanja Brandt.
The little tiger cub, Zoya, befriended a zoo employee’s dog after she was rejected by her mother. The duo is exactly the same age at three months old, and play together in a special enclosure at the zoo.
Brought together in Busch Gardens when they were both three months old, Kasi (Cheetah) and Mtani (Labrador) have no idea they wouldn’t normally be friends. Raised together in a special environment designed just for them, the two have been happy siblings into adulthood.
On a farm in Texas, this odd little family shows the true meaning of family, and how it can consist of all types of creatures – great and small. The Siamese Cat plays mama to her little flock of chicks, while she snuggles up with the pit bull who play the father figure to the small family.
Being a part of the same species doesn’t matter, especially when you’re the best of friends like Penny and Roo, a two-legged Chihuahua. Penny is a Silkie Chicken who met Roo when he was brought to the animal shelter after being abandoned in a local park. Cold and wet, Penny took it upon herself to help warm him up. The two have been together ever since.
Leo, Sher Kahn, and Baloo–a lion, tiger, and bear trio–were raised together as cubs and later rescued together from a drug baron’s home. When they were moved to Noah’s Ark Rescue Center in Locust Grove, GA the keepers decided to keep them together. Now the three live and play together, regardless of the their differences – and happy as ever.
Meet Bubbles and Bella, a happy pair despite their size differences. Bubbles was brought to the US after being rescued from ivory poachers.
Bea and Wilma share a 65-acre enclosure at Busch Gardens. With enough space provided to them, they are hardly forced to spend time together, but the two are closely connected and rarely apart.
Tinni met Sniffer, a wild fox, in a forest in Norway. Now Tinni’s owner, Torgeir Berge, does his best to keep up and let the two play together as often as possible, allowing him to catch their happy moments on film.
Milo, the Dachshund, adopted Bonedigger when the lion was just a cub. Now, 500lbs later, Bonedigger is still spending his time with the little dog. Apparently, this little puppy’s heart is bigger than the little cub he cares for.
No one really knows the story behind this wild pairing, they were captured on film by a wildlife photographer. Regardless, the real life images of Bambi and Thumper will warm your heart.
Love knows no bounds. This mama cat took in this little hedgehog (and about 3 of his siblings), alongside her own kittens, when they were orphaned. The little family bonded and can be seen snuggled together on various blogs.
Suryia and Roscoe are two you might recognize from last year’s Super Bowl Android commercial. Roscoe, though not endangered like Suryia’s orangutan brethren, lives with his best friend at an endangered species reserve in the US. Roscoe followed Suryia and her handlers home and, seeing as it appeared he didn’t have anywhere to go, they adopted him into the little family. The orangutan and blue tick hound have been fast friends ever since.
Anjana, the Chimp, has helped her caretaker, China York, with more than a few orphaned babies. These two white tiger cubs were separated from their mother when the enclosure flooded. Luckily for them, they’ve been adopted by a US Animal Reserve. Her generosity of heart just shows how love is a universal language between not only humans, but all creatures.
Every year in India, monsoons flood parts of the country. Thanks to a froggy friendship, this little mouse managed to keep his head above water. The little guy’s friend kept him safe when the rains arrived early that year.
It was a total surprise to photographer Norbert Rosing, when this polar bear arrived on the scene. Usually, a polar bear would mean the end to the sled dogs tethered nearby, but not in this case. After a friendly greeting was exchanged, the two spent the afternoon playing, wrestling, and cuddling.
This young elephant snuggles up to his pen mate, a sheep. Themba, the baby elephant, lost his mother when she fell down a cliff. He was later rescued and taken to a reserve, but after he refused to nurse from a foster mother he was hand-fed in order to remain healthy. His first meeting with Albert the sheep was a bit over-zealous, forcing the sheep to take shelter in a special enclosure. However, the baby elephant’s curiosity and gentle trunk touch soon coaxed his newest herd mate out, and they’ve been together since. Exploring most days with Themba’s trunk across Albert’s back.
It’s a regular scene at Shenzhen Safari Park, where these black swans line up everyday to feed their carp friends. It didn’t take long for the carp to figure out what was going on, and now they line up to receive not only from the swans, but also the caretakers. The swans have taken care of their watery friends for over ten years.
No one at the Berlin Zoo knows the story behind the little black stray who suddenly showed up in the bear enclosure, but one thing is for sure, the two are the best of friends. At one point Maeuschen was separated from her kitty friend–nicknamed Muschi–and pined for her so much that the cat had to be returned to the elderly bear. While the bear was missing her friend, the cat was missing her just as much, until zookeepers took heart on the two and reunited them in the bear’s internal enclosure while the external pen was enlarged.
Even the years couldn’t separate most of these friends. The above example of animal friendships set a beautiful example of how friendship and love is a universal language. The beauty of the heart and soul shines through, despite how nature would label them.