I saw this story, about a gorilla and her bunny companion, in my local newspaper the other day, and it reminded me of other stories about interspecies friendships, particularly between dogs and other species. These tales of animals creating lasting connections with each other, especially when they’re expected to be enemies, just warms my heart. The compassion that animals can show for a member of a different species in distress can be startling and really beautiful.
If you are also touched by stories of disparate animals connecting with each other, you should check out the book Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom, by Jennifer S. Holland. When I first saw the book title online, I almost dismissed it because I assumed it was one of those hokey coffee-table books. But then I read the author’s credentials, and the fact that she’s a senior writer at National Geographic sealed the deal for me. With chapter titles like “The Potbellied Piglet and the Rhodesian Ridgeback,” “The Sled Dog and the Polar Bear,” and “The Red Pandas and the Mothering Mutt, as well as full-color pictures, this book is irresistible to dog (and animal) lovers.
Not surprisingly, 18 of the 47 friendships profiled involve dogs. Anyone care to guess which breed of dog is featured most often? (Actually, mixed breed dogs appear in the most chapters, but one breed of dog gets spotlighted in two different chapters; all the other specific breeds discussed only get one chapter each.) Orangutans, gorillas, and monkeys cuddle up with tigers, kittens and even capybaras in my other favorite chapters.
My one gripe with the book is that I expected the stories to offer more depth. Many of them left me wanting more, but I suppose that’s not all bad. Maybe it has just helped me discover a very specific new reading and learning interest! And the fact that the stories are short and sweet, and enhanced with excellent photos, means that the books is great for kids too. I think older elementary students, and even some of my middle schoolers, would enjoy reading the book on their own. I might share a few stories with the whole group if we have time. And young children would love to hear these stories and peruse the pictures.
Have you ever observed interspecies friendships? What surprising stories have you seen about animals of different species befriending each other?