(StatePoint) As humans, we’re social animals. We need family, friends, and regular social banter to be happy.
But apparently, we’re not the only social animals. There are many things we can learn from pets and wildlife about friendships and taking care of each other. In fact new research has shown that animals of different species can even develop deep friendships with each other.
A new book titled “Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom” is hitting the bestsellers’ lists and showing the world about the prevalent but unique bonds between different animal species across the world.
“I expect that anyone who loves animals, and even those who don`t, can`t help but be touched by these unusual partnerships,” says author and National Geographic writer Jennifer Holland. “They remind us that kindness can rise above anything, even instinct.”
For example, when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans in 2005, many pet owners were forced to abandon their pets as they rushed to high ground. As domesticated animals were forced to fend for themselves, some formed packs for protection.
Among them were Bob Cat, a male cat, and Bobbi, a female dog, each with a bobbed tail. The fact that Bob Cat was fully blind made the animals’ relationship all the more touching. Bobbi the dog had been keeping Bob Cat safe by barking or nudging him in the right direction.
But such strong bonds are not seen only in domesticated animals.
In China, staff at a natural reserve witnessed an unusual bond between an abandoned rhesus monkey and white dove believed to be part of a bird migration study. For two months, the macaque and dove shared a space and snacked on corn together. The monkey even showed affection, hugging the dove. If only the dove had hands and arms with which to hug back!
Of course, the most surprising interspecies bonds can sometimes be between humans and other animals, particularly predators. When National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen was assigned to shoot leopard seals in the Antarctic, he was determined to shoot fast and get out quick. Leopard seals have been known to attack humans.
But a 12-foot female took a liking to Nicklen. The seal hovered around him, as if posing for the camera. She then hunted and killed a penguin -- the seal’s usual prey -- and offered it to Nicklen repeatedly. When the photographer ignored her offering, the seal then brought him live penguins and blew bubbles in his face, as if exasperated with his passive nature.
For more stories of remarkable friendships in the animal kingdom, check out “Unlikely Friendships.”
“If animals can do it, humans can also learn to accept their differences, big and small, and believe in the power of friendship,” says Holland. “After all, it’s in our nature.”