Beautiful Stories Of Unusual Best Friends

We’ve all been told “…it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Yet there are only so many times you can be told one of life’s glorious golden rules before it becomes a chore to hear rather than a lesson remembered. That’s why we’ve gathered these extraordinary stories of animals who demonstrate their appreciation of inner beauty in the most compelling way: with actions, not with words!

From natural disasters to owner abuses, the majority of these unexpected relationships were forged in the aftermath of tragedy. But through expressions of care and trust, the friendships evolved past the misfortune and nurtured the animals long after the disabling events.

Owen and Mzee

This photo shows the extraordinary and affectionate relationship of Owen the hippopotamus and Mzee the tortoise. A young Owen was found dehydrated and struggling to survive after his habitat was destroyed by severe flooding. Rescuers brought Owen to a wildlife sanctuary in Mombasa (a city on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast) and housed him with an aging male tortoise named Mzee. What happened next is the stuff of legend in the history of animal friendships: 100+ year-old Mzee cared for young Owen as though he was Owen’s mother, and the two reportedly slept together, ate together and were entirely inseparable.

Bubbles and Bella

The story of Bubbles the African elephant is unfortunately a common one: after being orphaned by ivory poachers, Bubbles was rescued and brought to a South Carolina reserve. The Labrador Bella was already a steady member of the reserve after her owner, a temporary worker at the reserve, decided to leave her behind. While not quite as expansive as Bubbles’ natural habitat, the 50-acre Myrtle Beach Safari reserve is complete with a gigantic pool for both Bubbles and Bella, as they enjoy a threat-free life. The reserve also looks like the perfect setting for the pair to strengthen their unlikely and precious bond.

Charlie and Jack

The characters of this tale, Charlie and Jack, have both passed on to greener pastures, but that does little to take away from their remarkable relationship of compassion and trust, profiled in the PBS documentary Animal Odd Couples.

Annette Tucker, manager at the Wild Heart ranch in Oklahoma, began to notice a touching relationship developing between the recently introduced Jack, a 16-year old goat, and Charlie, a 40 year old horse who was slowly becoming completely blind. Jack seemed to intuit Charlie’s handicap and assisted his new found friend by walking ahead of Charlie as they meandered the property, careful to stay in sight of Charlie’s good eye. With Jack acting as a patient and attentive guide, he was able to lead his new companion Charlie to the ranch’s best grazing spot day after day.

The bond between the aging animals seemed to rejuvenate them despite their years, and after the inevitable passing of Charlie, Jack soon followed his friend’s path. The two are now buried side by side on the ranch.

Balo, Leo, and Shere Khan

Jokingly referred to as “BLT”, this trio of critters (Baloo, an American black bear, Leo, an African lion and Shere Khan, a Bengal tiger) have lived two very different lives, with the one consistent factor being the unwavering companionship they provided one another. Raised together from youth, the three powerful animals were apparently kept by a drug dealer who restrained and neglected them. After Leo, Shere Khan and Baloo were rescued, treated for injuries, and transported to a sanctuary in Georgia, the sanctuary officers made the decision to keep the odd crew together, inspired by the tenderness that they had showed one another throughout the ordeal despite the propensity that bears and tigers have to behave as solitary creatures in adulthood.

Nile crocodile and Egyptian Plover

We wish this were the story of Barry the croc and Larry the bird, but it’s no less amazing as a symbiotic relationship between species members. Here we see an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mutualism between the crocodile and the plover. The predatory croc often gets irritated by pieces of flesh stuck in its teeth. By removing the lingering pieces of flesh for a free meal, the Egyptian Plover assists the croc by acting as its personal dentist! Companions indeed.

This HooplaHa original blog post was written by Salomé Arme , who is a recent Rhode Island to New York City transplant. After completing studies in linguistics in Portland, Oregon, she took a year to work on an oyster farm, renovate a cottage that was in shambles, and study all the muscles of the human body. She enjoys writing about the subjects that lie just beyond the surface, and in styles that both reveal and affirm the hidden stories of each life. 

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