Friendship is something valuable, not only for humans but for animals also. Take a look at some special ones.

If you’re a fan of Tom and Jerry, you probably believe that cats and mice can never be friends. But if you like the Madagascar movies, you know that anything is possible. Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo find friendship in trying situations when they let go of their natural instincts.

In the real world too, unlikely animal friendships are known to exist. These surprising and honest bonds between different animal species such as a dog and a cheetah or a hippopotamus and a tortoise are curious. Oftentimes brought together by extreme circumstances such as loss, abandonment or separation from the mother, these unlikely animal friendships fill humans with awe and wonder. Research shows that it’s not unusual for animals to be nurturing towards the young of a species, even going to the extent of nursing young ones rejected by their mother. Young mammals are known to be open to different kinds of experiences. Their desire for warmth and softness (let’s call it snuggling), leads them to forming lasting bonds with different species.

Let’s take a look at some friendships that are rather unusual in nature. Some of these animals naturally share the prey-predator relationship.

Owen and Mzee

Owen the hippo and Mzee the tortoise live in Haller Park, Mombasa, Kenya. In December 2004, Owen, then a baby hippo, was separated from his family because of the tsunami.

He was brought to Haller Park, a sanctuary, where he immediately ran to 130-year-old Mzee. The tortoise, initially perplexed by Owen’s behaviour, quickly came to terms with his new friend and returned the affection. The duo spent their time in the pond, feeding and patrolling, until 2007, when Owen was moved to another enclosure to socialise with his own kind. Read their incredible story in Owen & Mzee, The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff.

Dema, Manis, Nia and Irma

They make the sweetest picture. Two Orangutan babies cuddling with two Sumatran tiger cubs. When Dema and Manis the tiger cubs were rejected by their mother, zookeepers at Taman Safari Zoo introduced them to Nia and Irma, two orphan Orangutan siblings.

Even though, tigers are naturally meat-eaters, the cubs played and cuddled with their Orangutan playmates. The four young animals lived side-by-side for a long time until they were separated for their natural instincts to develop.

Shiley and Yeti

So you thought cats and dogs could never get along? For Shiley, a three-and-a-half-year-old male cheetah, and Yeti, a female Anatolian Shepherd, the expression ‘fighting like cats and dogs’ makes no sense.

Raised together since they were babies, Shiley and Yeti were brought together so that the big jungle cat could adapt to life in captivity at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in California.

The zoo has other cheetahs paired with canines, and the animals have displayed remarkable social behaviour with each other and the humans around them.