Unlikely Friendships: 50 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom
Jennifer S. Holland
It is exactly like Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . ” Written by National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer Holland, Unlikely Friendships documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. A cat and a bird. A mare and a fawn. An elephant and a sheep. A snake and a hamster. The well-documented stories of Koko the gorilla and All Ball the kitten; and the hippo Owen and the tortoise Mzee. And almost inexplicable stories of predators befriending prey—an Indian leopard slips into a village every night to sleep with a calf. A lionness mothers a baby oryx. Ms. Holland narrates the details and arc of each story, and also offers insights into why—how the young leopard, probably motherless, sought maternal comfort with the calf, and how a baby oryx inspired the same mothering instinct in the lionness. Or, in the story of Kizzy, a nervous retired Greyhound, and Murphy, a red tabby, how cats and dogs actually understand each other’s body language. With Murphy’s friendship and support, Kizzy recovered from life as a racing dog and became a confident, loyal family pet.
These are the most amazing friendships between species, collected from around the world and documented in a selection of full-color candid photographs.
Carnivora FAMILY: Felidae GENUS: Panthera SPECIES: Panthera pardus BRAHMIN CATTLE KINGDOM: Animalia PHYLUM: Chordata CLASS: Mammalia ORDER: Artiodactyla FAMILY: Bovidae GENUS: Bos SPECIES: Bos primigenius From the banks of India’s Dhadhar River, and a village called Antoli, comes the story of the domestic cow and the wild leopard that sought its affection. The leopard crept through the sugar cane on an October night, seeming to search for something. She found a cow tied in a field, the way
improved crop yields. Apparently the big cat was preying on pigs, monkeys, and jackals that usually devoured as much as a third of the farmers’ harvest. The cat stayed away for several weeks. Then on the last night the animals were seen together, the leopard visited nine times before wandering away from her friend for good. Rohit Vyas suggests that the leopard had been young and motherless when it first strayed into the village, using agricultural fields as a pathway from a distant forest.
as the zoo grew, the relationships among the animals took wonderful turns. Sharky dove into fatherhood before he was a year old and was like an excited big brother to his pups. “He couldn’t wait to see them, even more than the female,” says Helen. “If I’d ask, ‘Where are your babies?’ his eyes would sparkle and he’d run off to look for them. He’s just in heaven when he’s surrounded by all his babies.” Those babies came to include Siamese cat Max and the batches of chicks that Helen gets each
he’d chase the cats, chickens, and peacocks that lived on the property. But Joker kept coming—traveling every day from wherever he laid his head at night—and never raised a paw to the other animals. In fact, he seemed utterly disinterested in all species but one: the dolphins. Dolphin Reef has a population of eight bottlenose dolphins all fathered by a male named Cindy, the so-called Don Juan of the pod. (Yes, “Cindy” is a male.) At times the animals have been given free access to the open sea
sanctuary took him inside to care for him. Tarra seemed distressed and stayed near the house where Bella lay as if holding vigil for him. For many days, as Bella slowly recovered, Tarra waited. Finally, the two were reunited. Tarra caressed Bella with her trunk and trumpeted, stamping her feet. Bella, all dog, wiggled his whole body in excitement, tongue and tail in a nonstop wag as he rolled on the ground. And, in a most remarkable moment, Tarra lifted one immense foot into the air and