Given the date, we thought we’d celebrate with a little love from the animal world with nine cute animal couples. The complex and sometimes tender relationships between animals have been inspiring people for generations, and we’re particular suckers for adorable faces in love, as well as unexpected and touching friendships.
1. Roy and Silo
These two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo attracted international headlines with their loving relationship, which included typical penguin courting behaviors, and utter disinterest in the ladies despite ample opportunities to switch teams. They were so desperate to become parents that zoo staff gave them a fertile egg in need of care and they successfully hatched it, rearing the chick, who came to be known as Tango. Their story even inspired a book!
They aren’t the first pair of gay penguins, nor the last, blowing yet another hole in the argument that homosexuality is “unnatural.”
2. Moses and Cassie
Those of us with crows in the neighborhood are used to seeing them tease and torment our feline friends, but Moses and Cassie have a different kind of relationship. Abandoned as a kitten, Cassie would have died if Moses hadn’t found food for her and protected her, and the two became playmates as well as allies.
She lucked out when she was abandoned, since she happened to be tossed into the yard of a pair of animal lovers, but she was too skittish at first for either one of them to approach her. As Moses helped nurse her back to health, she gained some confidence, and became a beloved member of the family, but Moses was always number one!
3. Tara and Bella
Tara, a former circus elephant living at a rescue facility in Tennessee, needed a friend and none of the elephants at the sanctuary quite tickled her fancy. Luckily, Bella was there for her; the stray dog wandered onto the facility’s site and the two became buddies, living together for over a decade. Reportedly, Tara was so devoted to Bella that when Bella was injured and needed to be briefly confined, Tara patiently waited for her instead of wandering the sanctuary’s considerable real estate.
Sadly, Bella recently passed away, and Tara went into mourning, just as any elephant (or a human) would grieve for any lost friend. Other members of the elephant herd stepped up to help her through the grieving process, offering her food and company.
4. Torque and Shrek
Shrek, a long-eared owl, was orphaned, but the stars aligned for her when she met six-month-old Torque, a greyhound. The two quickly became best buds, snuggling up on the couch together, watching television and even going on tour with their handler, who introduced them gradually because he wasn’t sure how well the two would get along. Imagine his surprise when he found Torque so attached to Shrek that he’d appointed himself her personal guard!
5. Dema and Irma
Normally you wouldn’t see a Sumatran tiger and an orangutan in the same room as each other without fatal consequences, but not these two. Orphaned at a very young age, they grew up viewing each other as littermates and became bonded fast friends, along with their siblings. Both species are critically endangered, making their relationship particularly special.
6. Baloo, Leo, and Shere Khan
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! This trio was seized in a drug bust and sent to an animal sanctuary. Raised together, the three seem to be under the impression that they should be brothers rather than enemies, and they live together at the sanctuary, which is a much safer and healthier environment than that where they were kept previously as status symbols. They even have their own clubhouse — a must for any band of rambunctious, but sweet, brothers.
7. Prudence and Henry
Prudence was the runt of her litter, and things weren’t looking good for her. Her owners were prepared to shoot her until an animal rescue group stepped in and agreed to take her, but she was still fragile, so she ended up bunking with a litter of puppies; the rescue group specialized in wildlife and wasn’t quite sure what else to do with a piglet. What happened next is one for the history books; Prudence integrated so thoroughly with the pack that she acts like one of the dogs, chasing sticks, roughhousing with her new friends and sleeping with them.
8. Owen and Mzee
Talk about a May-December friendship. Owen was a baby hippopotamus orphaned by the devastating 2006 Asian tsunami when he met Mzee, a 130-year-old tortoise. The two became buds when they were placed together to keep each other company, and they even developed their own language so they could communicate effectively with each other across the species barrier. Owen got a little too big to keep hanging out with Mzee, so he was later removed from their enclosure, but their story sparked interest around the world as people were captivated by the fast friendship between two lonely animals.
And finally…something seems wrong with this picture, but it might take you a minute…
Yes, that’s right, that’s a spotted lamb with a Dalmatian!
Photo credit: Hans-Peter