It’s time to celebrate the unsung heroes of the animal kingdom!
One of the most famous stories of animal heroism showcases Koko the female gorilla. Koko was taught sign language (approximately one thousand signs!) and understood about two thousand English words. Her intelligent sense of love was bold enough to make headlines when she, through sign language, asked for a kitten. Caretakers brought Koko a tiny kitten, and she cared for this cat as if it were her own. One sad day, this kitten was killed by a car. Koko greived, signing “bad, sad, bad” and “frown, cry, frown, sad” upon the loss.
So many people worldwide know about Koko. The truth is, there are countless stories just like Koko’s in which an animal becomes an amazing parent for an orphaned animal outside of their species. We can all learn from the maternal and paternal compassion these adorable creatures demonstrate. Read through each unlikely pair to learn their amazing stories!
1. Hanama the orangutan and her cubs.
Check out the proud orangutan father of these abandoned lion and tiger cubs! Hanama the orangutan helps feed these fuzzy cubs, becoming an unlikely babysitter until they grow large enough to fend for themselves.
2. Coaley the Great Dane and his baby chimp.
Molly Badham and Nathan Evans founded a sanctuary for monkeys–one that’s grown into the largest zoo dedicated to primates in the world. It’s a lot of stress and responsibility, so they got some unlikely help … from canines! Great Danes, often praised as gentle giants, were the one breed that proved to be the most gentle caregivers to these little orphaned monkeys.
3. Lisha the Labrador retriever bonds with orphaned hippos.
By age ten, Lisha the Labrador retriever helped raise more than thirty baby animals of all different species. If baby animals have no mother to care for them, “they’ll become a little too comfortable with humans, and indeed often start patterning their behavior after that of humans.” When Lisha licks and cares for these little tykes, she’s not just loving them, she’s teaching them how to survive.
4. Summer the rabbit babysits kitty litter.
These two met at an animal shelter in Scotland. When stray kittens arrived at the shelter, it seemed obvious: the cat would mother them. Instead, Summer the female rabbit took over and helped raise the kittens while Elie the cat wouldn’t give them the time of day.
5. Koa the golden retriever and her bunnies.
Koa the golden retriever loved chasing lizards around the backyard (and luckily letting them go after the friendly game of tag). One day, Koa was hunting for reptiles when she got an adorable surprise. A group of wild baby rabbits was nestled in the yard. The human family was prepared to raise these bunnies, but Koa was set on protecting and caring for her new bunny children.
6. Cat adopts Chestnut the squirrel.
This baby squirrel was found barely holding on to his life. A family rescued the little guy, took him home and Chestnut the orphaned squirrel very quickly and without question became part of the kitty litter. The kittens were also abandoned, and now they and this rescued squirrel play together in their new rescue home!
7. Gandolf the owl finally finds a chick.
Gandolf the owl went through some hard times when, every year, she would lay an egg and wait for it to hatch. The eggs never did. One day, a goose egg was handed to her — and it proved to be the right match. Most owls would instinctively kill any newborn that didn’t look, smell and feel like their own species. Gandolf didn’t even flinch. She cared for the baby goose as if it were her very own egg.
8. Edgar Allen Pig fathers a one-week-old baby lamb.
Edgar Allen Pig was headed for a dinner plate. Luckily, he was rescued. Edgar returned the rescue favor by serving as a surrogate father to many different animals including baby chickens, goats, and you guessed it — lambs! Edgar left a legacy in Australia and proved that pigs make amazing surrogate fathers to abandoned animals.
9. Sam the Chihuahua has a monkey on his back.
Finally, our tiniest animal rescue tale: A Chihuahua named Sam who became a surrogate mother to a little marmoset. Since Sam only weighed a few pounds, he quickly received a backup marmoset carrier in the form of a helpful golden retriever.
**All information and photos in this article have been excerpted or paraphrased from One Big Happy Family, a compilation of “heartwarming stories of animals caring for one another” by the author Lisa Rogak.