30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships

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While it is rare, some humans have struck up close bonds with wild animals. Yep, you read that correctly.

In a world where humans find it hard to get along with each other, it makes it all the more special to hear of these unlikely friendships with animals.

Here are 30 examples of humans who struck up unlikely bonds with animals.

1. Joao Pereira and his best friend, Dindim

Joao Pereira de Souza had spent most of his life working as a fisherman in Rio de Janeiro when an unlikely encounter would change his life. Noticing a moving object covered in oil, Souza came to the aid of an injured penguin. If he arrived any later, it is likely he would have died.

In time, Souza spent hours of his time nursing the penguin back to health, and in that time, they struck up an incredible bond, so it was almost of great sadness when the fisherman realized Dindim was well enough to be released back into the wild. However, the adorable penguin has traveled back to Joao for at least 8 months a year, proving how special their bond is.

2. Agee, the polar bear

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


America is home to many exotic pets, but we think Mark’s polar bear certainly takes the owning of these wild animals to the next level! Not only does he devote his days feeding, caring, and playing with the polar bear, he also shares his pool and bed with it!

But this ashen giant of a fluffball is a gentle giant, hugging and playing all day and night with his human best friend.

3. A 5-year-old girl befriends a cute duck

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


It’s every child’s dream to own a cute pet. A hamster is usually a good introduction to the world of pet ownership. From there, parents might be willing to give in and gift their child a puppy. But when Kylie got a duck at 5, an enduring friendship was quickly formed.

In a story that looks like something straight out of a Disney movie, Kylie and her pet duck Snowflake quickly became inseparable, taking walks in the park, attending football games, and going to the local mall.

4. A zookeeper reunites with the gorilla he helped bring back to life

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


An extraordinary reunion involving an Australian zookeeper and a gorilla was caught on camera by Australia’s 60 Minutes series 5 years after the gorilla was released back into the wild.

It was a beautiful sight, and one made more so by Kwibi’s stunned reaction as his former friend and carer came rushing to greet him. Kwibi then spent the night with his human pal and also introduced Aspinall to his family.

5. John Rendall and Christian the lion

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


Believe it or not, John Rendall and his friend Anthony were just two Australian travelers enjoying the sights of London when they decided to purchase a lion cub from the famed London department store, Harrods. While the pet store has since shut its doors, the mythical department was one of the store’s premier attractions. They subsequently raised the cub, which they called Christian.

Rendall made sure he treated Christian right and even allowed children to play with him in the street! Eventually, they returned Christian to the wild with the help of the Australian conservationist George Adamson, but the best friends returned to the mountains where their former pet was released to see if Christian still remembered them. Sure enough, he did and pounced on them with all the love and joy in the world. The two lionesses nearby also accepted John and Anthony in footage that has since been seen around the world.

6. Pig hearted

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


Why anyone would have a pet pig is a mystery to me but they are apparently very clever animals, and this was demonstrated by Lulu who rushed out of the house when her owner collapsed of a heart attack.

She then stopped traffic and ran back to her owner drawing the attention of a passer-by who called for help, proving that animal friendships with humans are possible if you strike up the right connection!

7. Derrick Thompson’s magical elephant

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


Derrick Thompson has been instrumental in founding and running the Save Elephant Foundation. In his time there, he has helped rescue countless baby elephants and nursed them back to life before releasing them back to their natural habitat. However, one such elephant, who he called Kham Lha, demonstrated just how caring elephants can be when she rushed across a lake and offered its trunk in a bid to “save” Derrick.

Though he appeared to be drowning, Derrick was just fine, but it was Lha’s offer of her trunk to hold on to that truly melted Thompson’s heart.

8. Frikkie Von Solms and his best friend

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


69-year-old Frikkie Von Solms is like many in his country in that he is accustomed to seeing wild lions and other dangerous animals. However, Solms probably knows more about wild animals than anyone else. For the past 11 years, the lion caretaker has raised Zion and become best of friends with him.

While he has done this with 19 other lions, Zion’s infectious energy and love quickly rubbed off on the seasoned caretaker after being separated from its mother and father at birth.

9. Kevin Richardson’s career with wild animals

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


Known in many circles as “The Lion Whisperer” Kevin Richardson is another South African well versed in dealing with wild animals. However, unlike many in his profession, Richardson is a self-taught zookeeper who has raised some of the world’s most dangerous wild animals, from lions to hyenas and leopards.

Despite being scratched, punctured and beaten, Richardson’s Welgedacht Private Game Reserve near Pretoria continues to thrive.

10. Brutus the grizzly bear

30 Extraordinary Human & Animal Friendships


Meet Brutus, an 800 pounds grizzly bear that soon became Casey Anderson’s best friend. Casey, a naturalist, was there for Brutus when he was just 2 weeks old after coming to its aid in an overpopulated wildlife park.

Today, Brutus is living a life far removed from the hardships it faced at birth in a sanctuary that Casey built for all things-grizzly bears. While it may be shocking to casual observers, Brutus and Casey’s friendship is entirely safe with Casey being able to predict Brutus’s every move.

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