For decades, fathers and mothers raised two kids and a dog and all was well. But now we’ve come to understand family in a different way, and, as we move away from that traditional family, we’ve become more open to new, even unexpected relationships.
The animal kingdom is not so very different from our own world. Survival of the fittest may be the law, but love still conquers all, and no species is the exception to that rule. Take a note from these animals who opened up their arms in revolutionary acts of altruism.
1. Everyone remembers Koko, the sweetheart gorilla famous for learning sign language. So it wasn’t any surprise when The San Francisco Zoo gave Koko a kitten to play with, she immediately took to being her mother. Imagine the safety kitty felt in those powerful gorilla arms!
2. The grass looks greener from the other side, but that actually turned out to be true for Pumpkin the raccoon. Adopted by a mother and daughter in the Bahamas, where, because rabies is non-existent, domestication is legal, Pumpkin lived the good life along side the family’s rescue dog.
3. After a tiger in Thailand lost her cubs, she was so devastated she refused to eat. Desperate to save her, the zoo’s caretakers paired the heartbroken mother with some orphaned piglets wrapped in tiger suits. Tiger mom came to the rescue and instantly took to her new “cubs,” nursing and caring for them as her own.
4. A squirrel monkey named Fyodor was rejected by his mother at the Russian zoo. Worried about his ability to survive, the zoo director took him home to care for him until he was strong enough to hold his own. What they never expected was that their cat Rosinka would step in as the real surrogate mother. She even let him ride around on her back!
5. When this baby hippo lost his mother in a tsunami, he was taken to a nearby wildlife preserve where, albeit slowly, a 130-year-old tortoise stepped in to adopt the hippo baby.
6. In Kenya, conservationists were shocked when they saw a lioness adopt an abandoned baby antelope. You would expect that antelope to be an appetizer for her, but these two formed a special bond. That lucky antelope now has the best protection in all of Kenya!
7. Meet Milo the dachshund and Bonedigger the disabled lion! The two were raised together at an Oklahoma animal rescue and to this day maintain a close sibling-like bond. Oh, what a beautiful mornin’ Oklahoma!
8. In another episode of Who Wore It Best, we have this spotted duo. This Dalmatian lived on the same Australian farm where a lamb was born with a rare genetic spot pattern. The dog adopted the spotted little lamb and raised it like his own…because obviously.
9. This young cow lost her leg, and it had her feeling real down. So who else could give her some eternal motherly love and support but this tortoise? As they say, hard shell, soft heart.
10. It takes a village to raise a child, but in one British home, a village is just a dog and a hen. When Nettle had her litter of puppies, Mabel the hen wasn’t ready to settle as just a great aunt. She jumped right in and started mothering the pups, mimicking all of Nettle’s moves. Now that’s one cocky mom.
11. Speaking of flocking together, when some farmers in Ireland caught their cat with one of their missing ducklings in her mouth, they assumed the worst. But as they followed the cat they realized she had full-on adopted a few little ducklings, taking them under her “wing.” Well, as best she could anyway. Duck, duck, duck…
12. Corgi! We all know there ain’t no butt waddle like a corgi butt waddle, BUT sometimes nature just goes waddle wild, and it’s the best thing ever! Like when this corgi adopted some floofy baby ducklings and they just waddled around making the world a better place. Thank you. Just, thank you.
13. After her mate left her, a goose mother that’d made her nest in a New York cemetery was distressed over how to care for her young alone. Then in strutted this deer, who took on the papa goose role, guarding the little goose nest. Oh, what a dear!
14. There are plenty of fish (and other mammals) in the sea, but not all of them with a heart as big as this sperm whale. Researchers discovered that a bottle-nose dolphin with a deformed spine was adopted by this whale off the coast of Portugal. The whale taught the dolphin to forage for food and even how to play. Just keep swimming, little guy!
15. When Bango the dog disappeared from home, her family began to worry. A few days later, Bango returned home with two baby bunnies. It turned out, the bunnies had been abandoned, and Bango nursed them as if they were her puppies. How cute!!
16. After a tragic car accident took the life of Poncho’s mother, the baby opossum was rendered totally helpless. He was taken to a South Carolina wildlife sanctuary where he was introduced to Hantu the German shepherd. Hantu and Poncho were family at first sight. Years later, Poncho was still riding around on Hantu’s back.
17. When her mother fatally fell down a cliff, 6-month-old Themba the elephant was so depressed she couldn’t even eat. Then along came Albert the sheep, who filled in as the father figure Themba never had. With big responsibility comes big reward, and even after Themba was grown, the two were inseparable.
18. Crows get a bad rep, what with the whole death darkness omens and all, but not all crows bring misfortune. On the contrary, this crow in Massachusetts brought worms to feed an abandoned kitten. Even after adopted by a couple, the crow still came pecking at the door for some kitty snuggle time.
19. They say a southern mama is subtle like a freight train, and Miss Kitty from South Carolina was no exception. After all her kittens died, Miss Kitty marched straight over to a neighbors and stole an entire litter of puppies to raise. That was one tough mama!
20. A snake in China was fed a big chubby hamster for dinner, but he couldn’t bring himself to eat the little critter. The odd couple lived together for a long, long time, shnooggling happily ever after. Everyone loves a good plot twist, especially when it’s this cute.
21. Bubbles the elephant and Bella the Labrador: Bubbles was rescued from ivory poachers and brought to a safari reserve in the United States where she met Bella, a friendly dog who was left at the reserve by one of the park’s contractors. Despite the size difference, the two became best buds!
22. Suryia the orangutan and Roscoe the blue tick hound: These two live together at an endangered species reserve. Roscoe followed Suryia and her handlers home one afternoon, and since he didn’t have a family of his own, the two became inseparable!
23. Kago the puppy and Kumbali the cheetah: After this poor cheetah was abandoned by his family, workers at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia introduced him to Kago, a rescue dog from a local shelter. It didn’t take long before these two guys became completely smitten with each other!
24. Bea the giraffe and Wilma the ostrich: Busch Gardens, an amusement park located in Virginia, houses plenty of animals, and one 65-acre enclosure is home to a giraffe named Bea and her unlikely best friend: an ostrich named Wilma!
25. Leo the Lion, Baloo the bear, and Shere Khan the tiger: These three animals were rescued from an abusive human owner and they were inseparable because of what they went through. They now live in Georgia at the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary.
26. Emperor shrimp and sea slugs: Although emperor shrimp normally live inside sea cucumbers, they will occasionally hop a ride on the back of sea slugs for a scenic little trip around the ocean floor while they feast on the debris the slugs kick up.
27. Anjana the chimpanzee and a tiger cub: After a hurricane separated this white tiger from his mother, he was adopted by an animal reserve and immediately became smitten with Anjana, a chimpanzee who also lived there. The two quickly became the best of buddies!
28. Macaque monkey and kitten: While walking through the Monkey Forest Park in Bali, Indonesia, a tourist captured amazing footage of a macaque monkey who had taken a kitten under is care! Macaque monkeys are highly social animals, and they frequently interact with species other than their own.
29. Lammie the goat and Gertjie the rhino: Gertjie and Lammie were both abandoned by their families as babies, and they were brought to a South African animal sanctuary where they formed a special bond. What’s their favorite activity? Running around and bumping heads with each other!
30. Fred the Labrador and Dennis the duckling: Dennis the duckling was left motherless after a fox attacked his mother, but when Fred and his owner found Dennis, they adopted him! The two animals became friends immediately.
31. Manni the wild boar piglet and Candy the dog: A family from Germany found Manni alone starving in a field by their home. While Manni recovered, he struck up a great friendship with the family’s Jack Russell terrier.
32. Amy the deer and Ransom the dog: A sitka deer named Amy who lived at the Wild Heart Ranch in Oklahoma took a blind dog named Ransom under her care when he moved in. She helped groom him, and she kept him company for years!
33. Kate the Great Dane and Pippin the deer: When Kate came across abandoned baby deer Pippin, the loving canine adopted her! As Pippin matured, she eventually moved back into the forest, but she still visits Kate and Kate’s owner, Isobel.
34. Tarantulas and microhylid frogs: Although tarantulas can be vicious killers, they don’t hurt tiny microhylid frogs. Instead, they keep them around as “pets” because the frogs help protect the spiders’ eggs from ants. Scientists suspect the toxins in the frogs’ skin makes them taste bad, so the spiders use them to their advantage instead of consuming them.