Unlikely Animal Friendships, Love or Instinct, Featuring Ingo and Poldi

Unlikely Animal Friendships, Love or Instinct, Featuring Ingo and Poldi

Our hearts flutter every time a new pair of “unlikely animal friends” reaches the web, but are they really so unlikely? To us, it’s a sign that friendship can transcend any obstacle, be it wings, hooves, or fur. To them, it’s the most natural thing in the world. From the mother hen who raised a litter of puppies to the giraffe and ostrich who became buddies in a 65-acre enclosure, we’re left baffled and blindsided by these heart-warming tales.

dog and owl friends, Ingo and Poldi, in the water

Introducing Ingo and Poldi. Ingo is a Belgian shepherd from a family of police dogs, with a serious mentality not easily cracked. Poldi, short for Napoleon, is a little owl, scientific name athene noctua. He hatched two days after the last of his simplings, emerging much smaller and weaker. When Poldi emerged from his nest as an owlet, the two met and became fast friends.

dog and owl friends, Ingo and Poldi, staring into each other's eyes

What is the magic that caused the two to become so close? Was it just Ingo’s raw paternal instinct, seeing Poldi as a young creature needing something big and fluffy to lean on? Perhaps Ingo recognized Poldi as “the runt of the litter,” and instead of dismissing him, made the choice to look after this little owl. All we know for sure is the two are inseparable.

dog and owl friends, Ingo and Poldi, with a goofy grin holding the branch of a tree

We have German animal photographer, Tanja Brandt, to thank for this precious collection of photos. With time, patience, and a knack for putting animals at ease, Tanja is able to capture each of these tender moments.

dog and owl friends, Ingo and Poldi, cuddling in the snow

Unlikely animal friendships often begin in youth. An older animal may take an injured youth under their wing, or animals of different species may grow up together and remain friends for life. There are unbelievable sights out there, from a hand-raised lion giving his human a bear hug to a monkey clinging to a lion’s back. There are even examples of this cross-species parenting being taken advantage of, such as cowbirds sneaking their eggs into others’ nests. 

dog and owl friends, Ingo and Poldi cuddling

Call it instinct or call it love, there is something at work, leading grown animals like Ingo to care for the young and the weak. It’s something as simple as it is profound, as baffling as it is natural. And that is why our eyes tear up whenever we see one of these “unlikely animal friendships.” It’s because we see something in these animals we yearn to see in ourselves.

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