Nature, Wildlife & Animal Rights

Birds of a Feather Don’t Always Flock Together

Can animals of different species ever relate to one another?  Or are they destined to chase or stare at one another where never the twain shall meet?  There have been several well-documented cases in which surprising things have happened.  Think back to the Disney movie “The Fox and the Hound” in which the two become friends rather than predator and prey.  Then go a step further.

There have been many instances in which animals which, by all intents and purposes, should be enemies actually nurture one another.  They even nurse them.

cat and dog friend
Sometimes, nurture outweighs nature.
Image: Shutterstock

Humans love stories like this since they are so unlikely.  Yet, they make us feel like we should forget and forgive all our foes.  They make you want to love with your whole heart, as cheesy as it sounds.  Can you imagine anything more heartwarming than the story of a lion taking care of an orphaned baby antelope?  Normally, the antelope would have been a tasty meal.  Yes, animals can feel compassion just like people can.

One well-known story is about two baby Sumatran orangutans and two baby Sumatran tigers that were all abandoned by their mothers.  They bonded immediately and remained friends through adulthood.  The story shows how powerful cross-species adoption can be.

One of the most famous stories of all is that of Owen and Mzee, a baby hippopotamus and a giant tortoise.  The baby hippo, Owen lost his parents in a tsunami in 2004.  He was taken to a wildlife sanctuary and befriended a 130-year-old, cranky Aldabra tortoise, which he saw as his new mother.  At first the tortoise shunned the baby, but after a few weeks, they were completely inseparable.  They even created their own special form of communication.

Other images from past news include that of a macaque monkey hugging a dog and Koko the gorilla who had adopted a kitten as her own special pet.  Photos show Koko cuddling and gently petting the tiny kitten.

There are instances of a tiger mother nursing suckling piglets.  Another instance is of a dog mother nursing suckling tiger cubs!  Perhaps the maternal instinct is strong enough to take precedence over species differences.

Other cute examples are of a mouse hitching a ride on a toad’s back and of a kitten befriending ducklings.  Really nothing could be cuter.  What’s really at play here?

It appears that it’s all about nature versus nurture.  When raised in an environment in which these animals have no want for food, they are simply curious or even loving.  Also, if raised in captivity, or by humans, their mothers do not need to teach them to hunt.  They learn, by this alternative type of nurturing, that any animal can be a friend.  This often coincides with abandonment or death of the parents due to natural disaster or poaching.

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