True friendship and love knows no boundaries – not even those genetically coded into the animal kingdom. These adorable inter and cross-species pairings will melt any heart (ours are all puddles already!)
Bubbles & Bella
Bubbles the elephant was rescued from ivory poachers and brought to a sanctuary in the U.S. Bella’s former owner was contracted to build Bubbles a swimming pool, and when he was done, he sadly left Bella behind. Luckily, B & B found each other out and have been inseparable ever since. Bella especially loves using her large friend’s head as a diving board.
Penguins Holding Hands
These really put the “awwwwww” in aw-dorable. These two, true lovebirds were snapped purposefully hanging away from the crowd for some good old-fashioned one-on-one time. The photographer reports that at one point, a curious third penguin strolled by but the couple never stopped holding hands (fins? wings?), too enthralled by each other.
Tabitha & Susie
At just hours old, poor Tabitha the piglet was abandoned by the side of the road. Luckily, she was found and taken in by an animal sanctuary where the owner’s 5-year-old boxer, Susie, immediately felt right in love and put her paw on her. Years later, they are still the best of friends and play together daily.
The name says it all, really. These little feathery fluffs really do pair up monogamously and develop deep connections to their bird partner. They have a cute habit of sitting near their mate and cuddling right up next to them. Many of these birds find their mate when they are only around two months old, so most truly do enjoy a long-term love.
Koko & All Ball
This classic tale involves Koko, the gorilla famous for her wide vocabulary of hand signs and impressive communication with humans, and her real desire to have a cat friend to call her own. She asked for a kitten one Christmas and was instead given a plush toy, which she was clearly unhappy with. Her need for a furry friend persisted, and she soon was able to pick out her real cat. She chose All Ball (and named him that) and cared for the kitty as if her were her own. She was gentle and loving and even tried to nurse All Ball. When he passed she was broken hearted (all pet parents who have lost a furry child recognize this pain,) but has since been able to adopt more cats and be their best surrogate mama.
Billy & Lilly
With names like that, these two were destined to become close! Lilly, the goat, was born a runt and the owner at Pennywell Farm Wildlife Center had to intervene and bottle-feed the baby. When Billy, the boxer, saw this tiny kid, his nurturing side took over and he began cleaning her and watching out for her. The two are now inseparable and even cuddle together at night.
Koneko & Sam
This purrfect friendship comes courtesy of The Glasgow Zoo pairing up Koneko, an Akita pup, with Sam, a lion cub, in an experiment to monitor animal friendships across species. It turned out amazingly well, as these two became best buds and bonded for life.
Mike Holist/Daily Mail
Tinni & Sniffer
This fox and dog duo met in the forests of Norway and have been best friends ever since. Tinni, out for a walk with his owner one day, came upon a wild fox in the woods. Despite years of genetic differences and social training, these two recognized some common bond and forged a unique and instant friendship. Tinni’s owner, photographer Torgeir Berge, not only documents their frolics, but has also worked to ban fox hunting and the fox-fur trade in Norway since meeting Sniffer.
Baloo, Leo, & Shere Khan
Lions and tigers and bears oh my! This BLT (that’s, uh, bear, lion and tiger) bonded at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Georgia over 13 years ago after being rescued from a local drug dealer. Healing together in their first months at the sanctuary established an unbreakable bond and the three even share one enclosure together.
Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
Sappy & Dakota
Horses and cats are actually pretty commonly friends. Considering the sheer amount of barn cats on hand at each farm, it’s no surprise that the occasional warm-hearted horse and cuddly cat will pair up. Sappy the cat, upon coming to Dakota’s barn, developed an instant attraction and would take to lying by his towering friend as Dakota would graze, then took to following him around all day! Dakota, in turn, has taken to this pint-sized pal and not only pets him with his nose, but waits for him at feeding time.
We just adore these unexpected animal odd couples! If natural enemies and totally different species can fall in love and stay friends, then maybe there’s hope for us all!