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20 Unusual Animal Friendships That Will Amaze You

20 Unusual Animal Friendships That Will Amaze You

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.

Tiger Labs

    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.

    Pondi

      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.

      Tiger and Pup

        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.

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        CHeetah

          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.

          LIttle Family

            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.

            Roo and Penny

              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.

              Lion Tiger and bear

                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.

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                Elephant and dog

                  Meet Bubbles and Bella, a happy pair despite their size differences. Bubbles was brought to the US after being rescued from ivory poachers.

                  Giraffe

                    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.

                    fox and dog

                      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.

                      lion and dog

                        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.

                        Bambi

                          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.

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                          hedgehog

                            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.

                            Blue Tick

                              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.

                              Tiger Monkey

                                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.

                                Froggy Friend

                                  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.

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                                  Polar Bear

                                    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.

                                    Sheep

                                      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.

                                      Black Swans

                                        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.

                                        kitty bear

                                          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.

                                          Conclusion

                                          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.

                                          More by this author

                                          Jenna Anderson

                                          Jenna is passionate in helping people find their personal power through movement and healthy life style choices.

                                          20 Small Habits That Will Help You Become Mentally Strong Adrenal Fatigue Stages: What you need to know about this 21st Century Stress Disease 5 Food Cures That You Can Grow In The Office Quick And Easy: How To Get Rid Of Arm Fat For Good For Busy People: 20 Healthy Eating Habits That Will Change Your Life

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                                          Last Updated on October 22, 2020

                                          8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                                          8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

                                          How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

                                          Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

                                          When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

                                          Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

                                          What Makes People Poor Listeners?

                                          Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

                                          1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

                                          Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

                                          Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

                                          It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

                                          2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

                                          This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

                                          Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

                                          3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

                                          It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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                                          I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

                                          If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

                                          4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

                                          While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

                                          To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

                                          My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

                                          Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

                                          Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

                                          How To Be a Better Listener

                                          For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

                                          1. Pay Attention

                                          A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

                                          According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

                                          As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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                                          I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

                                          2. Use Positive Body Language

                                          You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

                                          A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

                                          People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

                                          But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

                                          According to Alan Gurney,[2]

                                          “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

                                          Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

                                          3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

                                          I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

                                          Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

                                          Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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                                          Be polite and wait your turn!

                                          4. Ask Questions

                                          Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

                                          5. Just Listen

                                          This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

                                          I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

                                          I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

                                          6. Remember and Follow Up

                                          Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

                                          For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

                                          According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

                                          It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

                                          7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

                                          If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

                                          Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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                                          Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

                                          Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

                                          NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

                                          1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
                                          2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

                                          8. Maintain Eye Contact

                                          When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

                                          Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

                                          By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

                                          You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

                                          And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

                                          More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

                                          Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

                                          Reference

                                          [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
                                          [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
                                          [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
                                          [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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