The 21 Most Touching Interspecies Friendships You Never Thought Possible

Dennis the duckling showed up at the Mountfitchet Castle in England, where the caretaker and his dog, Fred, found him. The duckling had recently lost his mother and was in very bad shape. Immediately, Fred began to lick the baby bird clean and the two became inseparable.

Chestnut the baby squirrel was found abandoned and perishing by a woman taking her kids to school one day. The woman scooped up the squirrel and took him back home, where he refused to eat. Her husband then proposed that they put the squirrel in the mix with the litter of kittens their cat had just given birth to. Luckily the squirrel fit right in and began to nurse on the mama Cat! Now he’s just another healthy member of the family.

When three kids were born to a mother goat at the Pennywell Farm Wildlife Center in the U.K., things did not look good for the runt. Seeing this, the owner promptly started to bottle-feed and raise the baby goat, Lilly, herself. When the woman’s boxer, Billy, saw the little goat, his paternal instincts kicked in and he began to clean her. Now the two are inseparable, following each other around and cuddling up at night.

Jess the spaniel acts as a surrogate mother to several orphaned lambs, and feeding them out of a bottle is no gimmick. Her owner says all she did was teach Jess to hold the bottle and then the pup took over feeding duties, galloping to hungry lambs around the 180-acre farm.

In 1997, four piglets were dropped off at the Blue Cross Animal Hospital in the U.K., after being rejected by their mother. The official greeter for the veterinary hospital, a border collie named Mac, saw the piglets and immediately began to lick and cuddle the bunch.

After years of failed eggs, Gandolph the Owl became increasingly frustrated and distressed at the North East Falconry Center in Scotland. When the man who ran the center, John Barrie, was given a goose egg by a neighbor, he saw an opportunity to soothe Gandolph’s angst. There was some concern, as many birds, particular owls, will ignore or kill an egg different than their own. Not Gandolf: The egg hatched, and she immediately took to mothering the baby, who quickly imprinted on her.

It is miraculous that the story of a hunting dog and a bird ended this well. Cherub, a white-faced scops owl, was only four weeks old when he arrived at the Devon Bird of Prey Centre in Great Britain. The center’s founder, Karen Andriunas, is always careful introducing new birds to her pointer, Kiera, for obvious reasons. However, when Kiera met Cherub, they just clicked. Now Kiera doesn’t take her eye off the miniature owl, and even gets nervous when Karen and Cherub leave the house without her.

The Secret World Wildlife Rescue Center, a sanctuary and rescue facility in Somerset, England, welcomed a deathly ill day-old fawn abandoned by her mother. She was greeted by the founder’s son’s Great Dane, Rocky, who immediately began to treat her as his own. Rocky and the fawn, Cindy, quickly became inseparable, going on daily walks and nuzzling up together.

This badger’s story is actually one of two caring dogs. When the first dog found the badger, orphaned and underfed in the countryside, he carefully brought the cub back to his humans. Seeing that the badger needed extra care, the humans brought the badger to the Secret World Wildlife Rescue Animal Sanctuary. There, the badger was spotted by the sanctuary’s resident dog, Murray, who took maternal responsibility for the cub.

When a once problematic mother fox (she was known for abandoning her previous kits) became pregnant again, the director of the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Connecticut saw an opportunity to save a dog. After calling rescue group Adopt-A-Dog, the perfect dog was found: a hound named Mama, who had come to the shelter after causing some mishaps attempting to save stray pups. While her foxhound status made her the least likely of candidates, her proven maternal instincts convinced the director give her a chance. The connection wasn’t immediate, but eventually she started cleaning and loving them.

When the mother of these two lambs was not able to fulfill her maternal duty, the couple running a small New Zealand farm had to take action. They introduced the lambs to Little Brown and the trio immediately bonded.

Another story of a rejected animal taken in by a surprising mother. When the llama’s mother refused to feed her, she was given to Rosie the dog to nurse. Rosie had just weened her own pups and was up to the task. Even after the llama, Mahogany, had finished nursing, the two remained inseparable, going on nightly walks and sharing the spare bedroom in their human’s home.

After Tabitha the pig was found on the side of the road as an hour-old piglet, the founder of the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk, Great Britain, took her in to nurse her back to health. Their 5-year-old boxer, Susie, immediately fell in love with the piglet and took her under her paw. Even as the piglet has grown up, the two remain close, racing around and playing all day.

Whereas many chimps tend to get bored and sometimes aggressive toward smaller animals, Anna was an exception in her steady nurturing of baby animals. At the small wildlife park near Daventry, England, she nurtured small newborn dogs with such care that even the mothers of the pups trusted the chimp.

Susie the bulldog had recently birthed her own litter when owner Leslie Clews found three abandoned baby squirrels. He decided to take a chance to see if the squirrels would take to the dog and vice versa. Luckily, they did!

When Melanie Humble took in a litter of 5-week-old kittens, she expected her cat to take over the mothering duties. To her surprise, her then-outdoor bunny came indoors and began to treat the kittens as her own!

After she hurt her foot, Mabel the chicken was brought into a home with new Rottweiler puppies. The chicken watched on as the mother of the pups nursed, and as soon as she left to take a break, Mabel hopped right in! Immediately she took to the puppies as if they were her own and a new, modern-day family was born.

Don’t worry, that doggie is just smiling at the roo! One day, Rex the pointer mix was walking with his owner in Victoria, Australia, when they came across a dead kangaroo. Rex could sense something was different about this kangaroo and went back to retrieve something from her pouch: a little roo. He carefully brought the recently orphaned baby back home to show his humans. The pointer and the roo bonded, playing and jumping together, until it was time for the roo to go to a more fulfilling home at the Jirrahlinga Koala Wildlife Sanctuary.

Lisha the Lab was adopted by the couple who runs the Cango Wildlife Ranch in South Africa. When an orphaned animal came in, pygmy hippo or otherwise, Lisha automatically began to comfort and care for the animal. By the age of 10, Lisha had helped raise more than 30 baby animals of a variety of species.

In 1998, Scotland’s Glasgow’s Zoo paired up this Akita, Koneko, with a lion cub named Sam. It was an experiment that turned out extremely well: The two immediately bonded and became best friends.

A small zoo with a program to save certain endangered Latin American animals had a group of marmosets that weren’t getting along. In order to protect the youngest marmoset from harm, the overseers decided to give him a companion by the way of a chihuahua named Sam. Daily, Sam would take the marmoset on rides outdoors where he could get some exercise and TLC. On the days Sam was too tired to take the Marmoset (after all, their difference in weight was not great), a golden retriever took charge. Yay teamwork!

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