Whenever I come across an animal odd couple story it always melts my heart. When two unlikely animals are able to form a bond of friendship, it shows that animals are just as capable, and sometimes even more so than humans, to set aside their differences, in order to appreciate the shared enjoyment of companionship.
It is no surprise to me that animals are capable of feeling and expressing a wide range of emotions just like humans. Since we humans are mammals, other mammals in the animal kingdom share a very similar brain structure when it comes to the component that processes and expresses emotions. This is the part of the brain in which allows one to feel deep emotions such as, joy, empathy, compassion, love, grief, for another human or animal
The science behind interspecies bonds could be attributed to altruism. Charles Darwin came up with the theory of altruism to explain why one creature would go out of its way to benefit another. In short, animal altruism developed due to the fact that animal groups that displayed more acts of altruistic behavior have a higher rate of survival compared with groups composed of more self-involved creatures.
It’s also part of an animal’s instinct to be either maternal or paternal at some point in their lives. Animals are also naturally social creatures, which allows them to view other species in their environment as part of the community.
Here is a selection of some of my favorite examples of animal odd couple stories.
The first animal odd couple story involves an orphaned cheetah and a Labrador puppy. Their friendship began when they were both infants, in Florida, at one of the wildlife parks. This paring happened due to the fact that at the time there weren’t any other cheetahs available for Kasi, the orphaned cheetah to pal around with, and so, they introduced the lab puppy as a potential companion. Quickly, the pair came to be close friends. They even developed similar methods of communicating with one another by creating their own unique language that wasn’t quite considered cheetah or dog language. A wildlife expert was concerned about how their relationship would progress one they both matured, but the fact they were able to form a bond in the first place shows the unique capacity of animals to express care and love.
It makes sense that animals that are put into captive environments adjust to relationships with an animal from another species to fill their inherit need for companionship. These odd pairs usually happen when the two are still in their youth, but these relationships can still form even when an animal is of older age. For example, a tigress at the Sri Racha tiger zoo was able to accept the company of piglets in her area of sanctuary. This may seem surprising she didn’t feel the need to eat them, yet it seems to me another example of an animal acting out of its maternal instincts.
This animal odd couple bond is very similar to another story of a lioness that adopted a baby antelope in Kenya. An animal behaviorist surmised she may have lost her cubs in some traumatic event causing her to seek out other baby like creature to take care of. Sadly, the antelope was eventually killed by another lion, upsetting the lioness who stayed in the area of the attack for entire day. She went on to adopting other baby antelopes but it was difficult with the surrounding predators that deemed her special bonds as mere food.
Another story of this endearing type of friendship involved an orangutan named Suyria and a stray hound dog named, Roscoe. One day when an animal care taker was walking with the orangutan, the stray dog found his way through the park’s gate and met Suryia for the first time. Immediately the orangutan showed affection towards Roscoe, and soon they were playing with one another. The care taker tried and failed to find the owner of Roscoe, and so, allowed him to stay in the park with Suryia since they seemed to have formed such a special bond. Apparently, when Roscoe is on his leash, Suryia will even take the dog for a walk around the park.
Another odd paring happened between Bea, the Giraffe, and Wilma, the ostrich, at a theme park in Florida. In the photograph of the couple, you can see them affectionately nuzzling one another. A clear example of the animals’ needs for a loving relationship.
The last of the animal odd couples, but not the least, that I found particularly sweet, was the bond that was formed between a four month old kitten and a crow. As we all know, birds and cats are supposed to be natural enemies, but not in this case. The owner of the cat watched this relationship unfold, witnessing the two walking around together and wrestling with one another. The crow would even feed worms to the kitten. The crow feeding the kitten is very maternal behavior, and shows the crows capability to be kind and protective over an animal outside of its species. The kitten didn’t have a mother cat, and so, the kitten naturally allowed this crow to take and fill the role of a mother cat.
Love seems to know no boundaries when it comes to animal odd couples. Animals have the need for interaction and affection just like humans do. Yet, animals are careful in who they decide to like or trust. Not all cats like other cats etc., so it’s apparent that the requirement for friendship does not fall into the guidelines of whether a potential animal friend is in the same species or not. These out of the ordinary relationships are based on trust, especially for the animal of prey.
Even though some people may perceive animals as separate or inferior to a human’s intellect and emotions, these stories seem to demonstrate how very human like animals can be. This is an important revelation, for it allows people to realize that animals are just as feeling and loving as humans, sometimes even more so. I think we could all learn from our fellow animals who decide to express love and care towards those that appear different from them. Because at the end of the day, whether you have spots or feathers, we all need friendship and love.