“Why do unlike creatures get together?” asks Jennifer S. Holland in her new book Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom. “Often biologists can point to an obvious benefit to one or both animals related to spotting predators, keeping parasites at bay, staying warm, finding food,” she says. But Unlikely Friendships shows relationships that are “a little less tidy.” For example: A gorilla and a kitten; a lion, a tiger, and a bear; an elephant and a sheep; a leopard and a cow; and a dachshund and a piglet.

One such odd pairing occurred here in Santa Barbara. During the Jesusita Fire of May 2009, many wild animals were left orphaned and displaced. S.B. Animal Rescue found a wee fawn—weak, crying, and alone. Shelter space was scarce due to all the rescues, so the fawn was put in a crate with a baby bobcat that had also been found. “As soon as we let the fawn in, the bobcat went right over to her, curled up, and went to sleep,” said rescue team leader Julia Di Sieno. “They were both so exhausted and weak. They cuddled right up as one.”

The tales in Unlikely Friendships are accompanied by lovely photos of all the “friends” who fill the book.

“These stories represent just a small sample of the unexpected animal pairings that people have reported around the world,” writes Holland.


Unlikely Friendships (Workman Publishing, New York. 210 pages; $13.95) is available at Chaucer’s Books (3321 State St.). Call 682-6787 or visit chaucersbooks.com.


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