Animals

10 Tender Animal Friendships That'll Melt Even The Coldest Hearts

Top Photo Group/Rex USA - Noah's Ark Sanctuary

Everybody deserves a friend in life, but sometimes they come in the form you'd least expect.

Friendship isn't just limited to us humans either. Not only do animals crave companionship as well, but they also don't restrict themselves to only befriending those of the same species as themselves.

Curious to see what kind of unusual, unbreakable bonds are out there? Take a look at these 10 heartwarming interspecies friendships that'll make even the coldest hearts melt.

1. Fred and his chicks

This is Fred. He's a 10-year-old yellow Labrador, who's just finally getting a taste of fatherhood.

This pooch from Essex, England has recently become the father of nine little chicks while residing at Mountfitchet Castle.

The proud papa adopted the ducklings after their mother went missing just before the royal wedding.

"We knew the mother duck was nesting and then suddenly these ducklings appeared but she was nowhere to be seen … We think it was possibly a fox," Jeremy Goldsmith, the director of Mountfitchet Castle and Fred’s owner, told The Sun.

The chicks are said to follow Fred everywhere he goes (including dips in the castle's moat) and sleep alongside him throughout the night.

"Fred has got an absolutely wonderful nature. They absolutely love him," Goldsmith gushed.

"We brought the ducklings into the house as they are too young to fend for themselves, and Fred just took them under his paw - rather than his wing," he added.

2. Owen and Mzee

When a baby hippo was abandoned by his mother, a 130-year-old tortoise came to his rescue.

The two companions belong to Dr. Paula Kahumbu, the general manager of Lafarge Ecosystems Mombasa, Kenya, who even wrote a children's book about their unlikely friendship.

Following the devastating aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, one-year-old Owen the hippo was stranded on a reef, and had to be rescued by a team of good Samaritans before he was taken to the sanctuary to recuperate from his harrowing ordeal.

He immediately ran to Mzee the tortoise for comfort and support, and he delivered just that.

While the pair were inseparable for the longest time, Owen was eventually moved to another enclosure with other hippos, as his growing size made it unsafe for the two animals to interact.

3. Sai Hu and his monkey companion

Sadly, it turns out bullying isn't an act solely reserved to the human race.

In China's Jiaozuo City Zoo, an orphaned monkey had been bullied by his peers due to his smaller frame, but that all changed when keepers brought in a dog named Sai Hu to the enclosure.

Sai Hu quickly took to the tiny monkey and didn't hesitate to become his new friend's bodyguard.

"So we put a dog in the monkey cage, hoping he can protect the orphan. Whenever the baby monkey gets bullied, he dashes up and drives the others away," the zoo's spokesman told the China News Network.

"And the baby monkey is also very smart. Each time he smells danger he runs to jump on the dog’s back and holds on tight," he added.

4. Pumpkin, Toffee and Oreo

After falling out of a tree at only one-month-old, a family from the Bahamas took the animal in, only for her to start believing she's just one of the dogs.

Pumpkin was taken in by Laura Young, who already had two dogs named Toffee and Oreo at home. The pooches became fast friends with their new companion, and she now follows them where ever they go.

"Pumpkin considers the dogs her mums," Young told PEOPLE. "She respects them when they have had enough rough play and she loves to cuddle next to them when she is tired! The bond with Oreo was straight away and Toffee soon after! They get along great!"

The adorable raccoon even has an Instagram page (with a staggering 1.5 million followers), which documents her sweet relationship with her doting surrogate mamas.

5. Lilo and Rosie

In 2015, a man found a three-week-old kitten whom appeared to be on death's door.

Rosie was weak, and wouldn't eat food, making her new owner, Thoa Bui unsure if she'd make it through the night. However, her situation dramatically improved when Bui introduced the young kitten to her to her husky, Lilo.

Once they met, it quickly became apparent that their bond was was something special.

"Lilo wouldn’t even get up to get dinner, we had to bring food to her," Bui told BuzzFeed. "They cuddled for hours and hours and hours."

Bui originally planned on giving Rosie away, once she saw the pair's attachment, she couldn't bear seeing the kitten go.

"They can’t not be touching, they’re always next to each other, they’re always touching each other," Bui said. "They sleep together, they walk together, we all go for hikes together."

6. Gandolph and her gosling

In the North East Falconry Center in Scotland, an owl named Gandolph was growing frustrated with her infertility.

When John Barrie, the man who ran the center, was given an abandoned goose egg from his neighbor, he knew the perfect bird to give it to.

While in the past owls have been known to ignore (or even kill) eggs of different species, Gandolph took her newfound role as a mother very seriously. As soon as the egg hatched, she took the gosling under her wing, who in return quickly imprinted on her.

7. Shere Khan, Baloo, and Leo

The story of the BLT (bear, lion, and tiger) gang is one of the most precious stories out there.

Shere Khan, Baloo, and Leo were raised together in an Atlanta drug lord's house, before they were moved to Noah's Ark Sanctuary. They instantly made headlines for becoming the only bear, lion, and tiger trio to be living in the same enclosure.

While they were brought to the animal sanctuary in immensely poor health, they remained inseparable companions who religiously ate, slept, and played together every day of the week.

Sadly, after 15 years of friendship, Leo passed away after suffering from severe complications to his health.

"During the procedure, our veterinarians discovered that over 80% of Leo's liver was full of inoperable masses and because of this, the heart wrenching decision was made to let him go," a statement on Noah's Ark Sanctuary's Facebook read.

Luckily, his two best friends were able to say their goodbyes before Leo was put down.

"It is highly likely that Baloo and Shere Khan knew their lion brother was terminally ill long before Leo began displaying outward symptoms," the post added.

8. Jess and her lambs

When baby lambs are abandoned by their mothers, Jess the springer spaniel is prepared to take over.

The adorable canine is often on hand to help her owner Louise Moorhouse's take care her 270 sheep, which include bottle feeding the orphaned lambs.

"She’s been doing it ever since she was a puppy. I taught her to hold the milk bottle in her mouth and she did the rest. It’s very funny when she runs across the field gripping the bottle," Moorhouse told The Daily Mail.

9. Tinni and Sniffer

If you were a fan of Disney's The Fox and the Hound, you'll immediately fall in love with Tinni and Sniffer, a Norwegian dog and wild fox, otherwise known as the most lovable best friends you'll ever meet.

One day photographer Torgeir Berge was walking Tinni in the forest when they stumbled upon a friendly fox, who Berge eventually named Sniffer. The two are often spotted playing in the woods or just enjoying each other's company.

Their affectionate relationship has inspired Berge to write the book, The Fox and the Dog, which will include fairy tales based on their close-knit friendship.

10. Suryia and Roscoe

While dogs aren't on the endangered species list, Roscoe the bluetick coonhound lives at the The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species preserve in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his best friend Suryia, the orangutan.

Their friendship began when Roscoe followed Suryia and her handler's to the sanctuary, and since it didn't look like the pooch had a place to call his own, they welcomed him home.

The twosome became attached to the hip, and are rarely seen without each other. One of their favorite activities to do together is play in the water, where Roscoe is teaching Suriya how to swim.

[H/T: The Dodo, Mother Nature Network, PEOPLE]

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