Monica!'s Reviews > Unlikely Friendships : 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom

Unlikely Friendships  by Jennifer S. Holland
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So according to Merriam-Webster, a friend is “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” In the book Unlikely Friendships, I think this definition occasionally gets stretched a little.

I mean, we’ve got a picture of “the author befriend[ing] a potato cod in Australia.” I just… I just don’t think that’s friendship. That’s a stunned fish wondering why he’s being taken advantage of, perhaps. But I don’t… I don’t… think there’s an actual bond forming, there. Probably.


Seriously, no means no, lady!

Some of the stories are legitimately aww-worthy. Mausschen, the oldest known female Asiatic bear, had a pleasant-looking stray cat sneak into her cage twelve or so years ago, and the two of them have been contentedly snuggling and sharing meals ever since. Tarra, an Asian Elephant housed at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, was visibly distressed when her dog companion Bella became ill—and after they were reunited, actually went so far as to rub the dog’s stomach with her giant, giant elephant foot. And clearly my BFFs Owen and Mzee got a mention.

But as for the rest… we’ve got a bobcat and a deer, both incredibly young and both victims of a traumatic forest fire, who managed not to kill each other for a few hours while they were stored in a rehab crate. Okay.

There’s a golden retriever that would look at a fish in a koi pond. Gotcha.

There’s a snake that didn’t eat a hamster in its cage. Huh.

And there’s a lioness that tried to adopt an antelope—I saw a documentary on this story, guys, and this was super tragic. It was not adorable at all. The lion kept almost, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalmost eating the oryx, and then would look the other way and pretend it totally wasn’t hungry, and the oryx kept trying to get away but the damn lion wouldn’t leave it alone, and both of them were starving because the oryx couldn’t nurse off the lion and the lion couldn’t hunt because then someone other than her might try to devour the tender, veal-like flesh of her new hoofed child. And then the oryx died. Spoiler. It got eaten by another lion while “Mama” was taking a nap. SAD STORY THIS IS.

What I’m trying to say here, again, is that while the snake/hamster zookeeper might have said, “I sensed that the relationship wasn’t about eating, but was about friendship,” I remain skeptical that the majority of these animals were actually besties.

I don’t even really care though, because in all honesty, my brain is being overloaded with cute.



Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw…



So sweet! So tender! So delicious!



These guys look a little embarrassed. Ah, love that dare not speak its name.



Note to self. Baby kookaburras = not particularly cuddleable.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Hazel (new)

Hazel What's in the picture with the dog? It looks like a sloppily taxidermied owl.


Monica! That is a baby long-eared owl! Native of Europe, Asia and North America!


message 3: by Annette (new)

Annette That poor little monkey looks like it has had some terrible trauma that has completely disrupted its psyche...


Monica! His mother abandoned him when he was only twelve weeks old! Humans were able to heal his physical wounds, but could do nothing for his emotional trauma! It took a dove at a local animal hospital to help him overcome his abandonment issues! FRIENDSHIIIIIIIIP!!!


message 5: by Annette (new)

Annette Oh.


message 6: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Golden retrievers don't count, they are everybody's friend.


Monica! Yeah, the author of the book probably forgot to mention how prior to gazing at his friends the koi, he first stopped to gaze at his friend the tree, his friend the squirrel, his friend the mail man, his friend the water dish, his friend the bird, and his friend the other squirrel.


message 8: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Man, my golden retriever looooved the mailman. "My friend visits EVERY DAY. He loves me!"


Monica! At least your dog remembered the mailman. Ours just thought he was making a ton of new friends, since he never seemed to realize he'd met anyone before.


message 10: by Juliet (new)

Juliet Paulson I'm curious what it matters if the cause of the (take or leave the term) friendship? Maybe some were through trauma and the bond was forged as a result. That certainly doesn't make it any less remarkable. In fact, it's almost more so. Just goes to show the emotional range that so many doubt in animals, that they are able to form a relationship to get over such things. Pretty extraordinary if you ask me!


Monica! Juliet wrote: "I'm curious what it matters if the cause of the (take or leave the term) friendship? Maybe some were through trauma and the bond was forged as a result. That certainly doesn't make it any less remarkable. In fact, it's almost more so. Just goes to show the emotional range that so many doubt in animals, that they are able to form a relationship to get over such things. Pretty extraordinary if you ask me!"

Oh, for sure, I'd never disagree with the fact that animals can form bonds way beyond what we'd expect! I just felt that some of the "friendship" stories in this book were a little bit of a stretch, given how many legitimately awesome animal friendship stories are out there. :)


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