Tales of bravery and self sacrifice lift our spirits, and they don’t always come from humans. Animals are just as prone to perform courageous acts, and while we typically only hear about them when it involves rescuing people, members of the animal kingdom are often looking out for each other. It isn’t such a dog-eat-dog world after all, and we can learn a lot from the selfless courage and heartwarming humanity of animals.
10. Kanpur Railway Monkey Saves Its Friend
In December of 2014, a simian rescue operation took place at Kanpur train station in India. A monkey had fallen unconscious after being electrocuted on the train tracks, but luckily it wasn’t the end of the line for the little guy just yet. Another monkey sprang into action, displaying some impressive resourcefulness in trying to revive his friend.
The determined monkey can be seen saving the day in a video that soon went viral, with footage showing the rescuing monkey trying different forms of resuscitation, including patting, shaking, and finally dragging the injured primate into a pool of water. All the while, commuters standing on the platform just watched the monkey business, taking photos with their smartphones. The passengers began cheering after about 20 minutes, when the unconscious monkey finally, thankfully, showed signs of life.
9. Dolphin Saves Two Whales
Dolphins are famous for their friendly and altruistic qualities and there are numerous stories about them aiding humans, but they also help other species. Moko, a bottlenose dolphin known for playing with bathers off the coast of Mahia, New Zealand, made international headlines in 2008 after she rescued two pygmy sperm whales from certain death. Time was running out for the mother whale and her male calf, as they found themselves beached on a sandbar, death seemingly only minutes away. Volunteers had spent an hour and a half trying to drag them to deeper water, but each time the whales kept getting disoriented and returning.
All hope seemed lost, and killing the whales humanely was becoming a serious option, when Moko appeared and took charge of the situation. She got between the humans and the whales and escorted them out through a narrow channel to the ocean. Volunteers realized she had heard the whales’ distress calls and responded, and the beached whales had instinctively trusted the heroic dolphin. Your move, Flipper.
8. Dog Saves Her Puppies from a Forest Fire
In an outstanding display of motherly love, a dog saved her nine puppies from burning alive in a forest fire in Chile. The devoted dog dug a deep hole under a metal container and placed her babies inside, where they were untouched by the flames. The hole was so deep that it took firefighters about an hour to to locate all of the puppies and lift them out. The mother was later reunited with her puppies once they’d been rescued.
That wasn’t the first time a Chilean dog has gone to extreme lengths to save her puppies from a fire, either. In 2012, a dog rescued her 10-day-old babies from a house fire in Santa Rosa de Tamucu after a car bomb had gone off. The dog risked her life to carry them one by one to the safety of a fire truck, before laying with them and using her body to further protect them. Four of her five puppies survived thanks to her courageous rescue efforts.
7. Hippo Saves a Wildebeest Calf and Zebra Foal
Hippos are well-known for their aggressive nature, so it was all the more remarkable to see one involved in a inter-species rescue operation. When a wildebeest had gotten separated from its mother and caught up in the strong currant of Tanzania’s Mara River, our brave hippo immediately swam to help the calf. The helpful hippo positioned itself downriver of the calf and gently nudged it to safety, where it was reunited with the rest of its herd.
The hippo’s work wasn’t done, as it found itself repeating the process with a zebra foal that had been swept downstream. According to witness Tom Yule, the zebra was exhausted but the hippo started “nudging it and gently biting it on its backside as if to say, ‘Come on man, don’t give up now, you can do it. Just a hop, skip and a jump and you’re there.” We think Yule may be giving the hippo too much credit for the extent of its vocabulary, but we certainly won’t deny it’s clearly some kind of hippo superhero.
6. Leopard Saves Baby Baboon After Killing its Mother
Legadema was a 2-year-old leopard cub who had just undergone a rite of passage by making her first kill: a baboon. As she was dragging away the carcass, there was movement and a tiny infant crawled out of the baboon’s fur. This sudden and unexpected turn, which wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Game of Thrones, caught Legadema off guard. When a pack of hyenas started to gather, she sprang into action, ignoring her freshly killed meal and gently carrying the orphaned baboon up a tree, where she cared for it throughout the night. Each time the baby fell from a branch, Legadema would rush to retrieve it and carry it back to safety.
Tragically, despite the leopard’s best care, she couldn’t provide the necessary sustenance to support the infant primate and it didn’t survive. The incident was filmed in Botswana by a crew of documentarians who had been following the leopard from birth to adulthood for the film Eye of the Leopard.
5. Cat Saves Her Kittens from a Fire
In 1996, a fire broke out in an abandoned garage in Brooklyn and firefighters saw a cat carrying her kittens out of the building individually. The cat, named Scarlett, was severely burned and her eyes blinded by blisters, but she lined up her babies and touched each kitten with her nose to make sure all five were safe from the fire.
After her heroic rescue, Scarlett collapsed into unconsciousness. One of the firefighters took her to a shelter, and news of her brave deeds spread. More than 7,000 applications to adopt Scarlett and her kittens came rolling in, and she became the subject of a book called Scarlett Saves Her Family. And not to spoil the book’s ending, but yes, Scarlett and her kittens lived happily ever after.
4. Orangutan Rescues a Coot Chick
Orangutan’s make for great viral video subjects, particularly when they rescue adorably small animals. One particular video centers on an orangutan named Jorong, who rescued a coot chick at the Dublin Zoo. What initially seemed to be sheer curiosity by the orangutan was quickly and more accurately reclassified as a rescue mission.
Jorong was able to scoop the bird up and carry it to safety, before gently placing it on the grass and proceeding to give the chick what appears to be a full on wellness exam. It’s difficult to know whether the the rescue was driven by compassion or curiosity since orangutans are known for their inquisitive nature, and also occasionally eat small mammals. Nobody knows what happened to the chick after the video footage ended, so we’re going to just assume it involved nothing but sunshine and rainbows.
3. Water Buffalo Saves a Calf from a Pride of Lions
Water buffalo are not to be trifled with, and messing with an entire herd is just asking for trouble. That didn’t stop a pride of lions from going after a group of water buffalo, with one calf initially being left behind to fend for itself. Of course, just when it looked like the lions had found their next meal, one brave buffalo stood up to three of the hungry predators that were set on making the calf their lunch.
At one point the lions nearly succeeded in claiming the calf as a prize, but the quick-thinking buffalo rallied and used its immense size and sharp horns to keep the pride at bay. The rest of the water buffalo herd returned like the Rohirrim at the Pelennor Fields, and the lions abruptly retreated out of fear either for their lives, or the threat they’d be subject to more nerdy Lord of the Rings references like that one.
2. Elephant Saves Her Calf Stuck in Mud Pit
Elephants are known to be among the most intelligent and empathic animals on the planet, with tremendous familial attachment. An Asian elephant in India’s Chatra district demonstrated this compassion as she struggled to free her young calf from a deep well, trying frantically to save her baby using her trunk. Unfortunately, she was just making things worse by pushing more dirt into the hole and almost suffocating the calf.
The rescue attempt continued for 11 hours, until concerned locals intervened at first light the next morning. They temporarily lured the mother away from the well and removed the sand that was hindering the elephant’s rescue efforts. After the majority of the soil was cleared, the elephant was able to get a grip on the baby’s mud-soaked body and haul it to safety before lumbering off side by side, presumably culminating in a freeze frame and some sappy music to really tug at the old heart strings.
1. Dog Saves a Kitten and Nurses It
When an animal control officer was called to rescue a dog stuck in a South Carolina ravine, she was pleased to find a perfectly healthy shih tzu. However, officer Michelle Smith got a surprise when she found the little dog not only protecting an abandoned kitten, but also nursing it. The dog was able to nurse the tiny kitten by tricking her body into a false pregnancy. Take that, natural biology!
The protective pooch probably could have escaped from the ravine, but chose to stay with the kitten and certainly saved its life by yelping for help. The dog and kitten, named Goldie and Kate by someone who was clearly way too obsessed with celebrities and their offspring, were taken to a local shelter and remained inseparable. Although Goldie wore a collar and was well-groomed, no one ever came forward to claim her, and eventually, the unlikely twosome were adopted together. Hopefully by Kurt Russell, but unfortunately we’re not betting on that.