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Interspecies Love: 6 Strange Animal Friendships

Updated on May 24, 2012

The pregnant dog who adopted a squirrel, the legless monkey who bonded with a rabbit, the dolphin who slid down the backs of whales—humans aren’t the only ones engaging in interspecies friendships. Despite instincts that may tell them otherwise, animals have a remarkable capacity to bond with other species.

Finnegan and Mademoiselle Giselle

In 2005, Finnegan the squirrel was found injured and malnourished in a Seattle-area neighbourhood. Less than one week old, he hadn’t even opened his eyes yet. A local woman, who had a reputation for taking in sick and injured animals, took Finnegan into her home. Much to her surprise, her pregnant Papillon, Mademoiselle Giselle, repeatedly dragged Finnegan across the house and deposited him into her doggy bed. Once she gave birth to a litter of pups, Giselle continued to care for Finnegan, even allowing him to nurse.

Eight weeks later, Finnegan ventured outside. At first he stayed in the yard and scratched at the back door to be let in for the night, but now he runs free. But occasionally, Finnegan returns with a few squirrel friends just to say hi.

Owen and Mzee

Owen, a frightened young hippo, was separated from his family by the devastating 2004 tsunami. Wildlife rangers found him near the ocean, alone and dehydrated, and brought him to a wildlife centre near Mobassa for recovery. Once there, Owen immediately bonded with a 130-year-old Aldabra tortoise named Mzee. Despite their age gap, they’ve formed an inseparable bond. Owen follows the tortoise around, licking her face, and they even sleep together and eat together.

Kate and Pippin

In 2008, a Canadian couple rescued a newborn fawn that had been abandoned by its mother. The fawn, named Pippin, cried for three solid days, so they put her in their dog’s bed to try to comfort her. The dog, a great dane named Kate, fell instantly in love and the pair have been inseparable ever since.

Pippin is neither wild nor domesticated—she’s free to come and go and she pleases. Every fall, she disappears for about a month to take part in rutting season and returns “pregnant and happy.” Her two calves have also taken to hanging around the house.

BoonLua and Toby

BoonLua, a long-tailed macaque, relaxes with his buddy Toby at the Royal Elephant Kraal in Thailand's Ayutthaya province, about 80km north of Bangkok. The six-year-old wild monkey lost both legs and an arm when he was savagely attacked by dogs, but miraculously managed to drag himself to a temple. The monks called a veterinarian, and BoonLua now lives a happy life with bunny companions galore.

Frog and Mouse

A sophisticated interspecies escape or a romantic dip in the lake? This frog swam the little mouse to safety when floodwaters hit the Indian city of Luckno.

Dolphin and Whale

In Hawaii, bottlenose dolphins have been spotted sliding down the “noses” of humpback whales. The dolphins positioned themselves directly in front of the whales and surfed on the pressure wave before being lifted out of the water. The dolphins appeared to cooperate, showing no discernible effort to free themselves or escape. Once in the air, the dolphins balanced for a few seconds before sliding back into the water, tail first.


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