When we think of wild animals, we generally consider one or two scenarios: increasing conflicts with them as humans encroach on the places they live and our response to the situation, or animal rescue missions to save them from a myriad of perils. There are many situations in which human beings need to solve the plight of an animal or go out on a limb to save their lives. These tales of rescue are often some of our favorite and most heartwarming animal stories.
Gorilla Saved Toddler From Attack
In August of 1996 at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, a 3-year-old boy fell 18 feet into a gorilla enclosure, sustaining a rather severe head injury. Binti Jua, a female Lowland Gorilla, protected the boy from the other gorillas, who are notoriously territorial. She then cradled him in her arms and carried him 60 feet to an entrance where zoo employees and medical personnel waited to treat his injuries.
Beluga Whale Rescues Drowning Diver
At the Polar Land Aquarium in Harbin, China, in 2009, diver Yang Yun took part in a free-diving competition to apply for a whale training job offered there. While diving in the freezing water, she developed a cramp in her leg and found herself unable to swim to safety. Mila, one of the two beluga whales in the tank, noticed Yun’s distress and came to her rescue, by grabbing her leg in her mouth and forcefully pushing her up to the surface, saving her life.
Lions Foil Kidnapping Plot
In 2005, a 12-year-old Ethiopian girl was reportedly saved from a group of kidnappers by three lions. Seven men had abducted the girl, holding her captive for over a week, to try and force her into marrying one of them. They had beaten and assaulted her repeatedly, but the potential man-eating felines apparently chased off the men and stood guard over the girl for half a day until the police and her family came.
Sea Lion Helps Man Who Jumped Off Golden Gate Bridge
Cases of surviving a deliberate plunge off of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge are very rare, but perhaps they might occur more often if a helpful sea lion would show up. This is what happened when 19-year-old Kevin Hines decided to jump in September of 2006. Miraculously, he survived the 25-story plunge, but the impact of the water broke his back and shattered vertebrae, and the overwhelming pain rendered him unable to tread water. But before he started to sink, something brushed his legs. A sea lion was circling him, nudging him, and keeping him above water. Authorities were able to get to him and pull him out of the water, but he surely would have drown due to his injuries had he not been buoyed.
Beavers Comfort and Save Boy Freezing to Death
Rheal Guindon of Ontario, Canada, was on a camping trip with his parents in when they decided to go out in the boat to go fishing. Rheal stayed on shore, but was horrified when he witnessed the boat tip over and his parents struggle in the water and drown. He walked toward the nearest town to get help, but when the sun set, he realized he would have to spend the night on the cold, damp ground. As he lay there crying, he felt a warm, furry body press up against him, which he thought was probably a dog. Delirious from his ordeal, he fell asleep. In the morning, he awoke to find three wild beavers huddled against him and across his body. They had saved him from freezing to death overnight when the temperatures dipped below zero.
Elephant Saves Girl From Tsunami
During the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, an 8-year-old girl named Amber Mason was kept from drowning and was sheltered from the waves by an elephant. As the initial wave struck, the elephant took Amber on its back and ran for higher ground. It also created a protective wall around Amber by turning its back to the wave. The girl’s family credit the elephant with saving her life, as she would have been separated from them and drowned otherwise.
Dolphins Rescue Surfer Wounded by Shark
During an incident in 2007, a monster Great White shark had already attacked Monterey, California, surfer Todd Endris three times, peeling the skin from his back and shearing his right leg to the bone, when a circle of dolphins appeared. The small pod surrounded him, protecting him from further danger, and guided him back to the shore.
Silverback Gorilla Protects Injured Boy
In 1986, Jambo, a male Silverback Gorilla, saved a young boy named Levan Merritt when he fell 12 feet onto a concrete slab in the gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo, cracking his skull and falling unconscious. Although male Silverbacks are thought to be incredibly hostile, Jambo stood guard over the boy, placing himself between him and the other gorillas. He later stroked the unconscious boy’s back and led the other gorillas away and into an enclosure when the boy gained consciousness, allowing for his rescue by an emergency medical team.
A Pod of Dolphins and Two Whales Rescue Marooned Fisherman
In 2008 in the Philippines, Ronnie Dabal was fishing for tuna in Puerto Princesa Bay when his boat was upset in a squall. Dabal battled relentless waves for 24 hours perched atop of a piece of Styrofoam, but lost his strength to exhaustion as it became dark. Suddenly, a pod of 30 dolphins and two whales flanked his sides and began nudging his raft to shore. They nudged him all the way to the safety of the beach of Barangay.
Seal Saves Man From Shark Attack
In 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, British tourist Michael Cohen was attacked by a shark and lost almost two gallons of blood after having his right leg severed and his left leg bitten through. As two men swam out to rescue him, the shark geared up for a second attack, when a seal suddenly appeared and started circling the three men. The seal continued circling, warding off any further attack, until all three made it safely to shore.
Bear Saves Man From Mountain Lion Attack
69-year-old Robert Biggs, from Paradise, California, had been watching a mother bear and her cubs from a safe distance, when he was attacked from behind by a mountain lion, which pounced on his back. Biggs was trying to fight the big cat off with a rock hammer, when suddenly, the mother bear came from out of nowhere and ripped the cat from Biggs’s back, flinging it around by the neck. After a 15-second clash, the mountain lion ran off, and the bear went back to caring for her young. Biggs walked away with only superficial abrasions, thanks to the mother bear.
A Giant Sea Turtle Swam a Woman to Safety on its Back
In June of 1974, a 62-year-old woman named Candalaria Villanueva was shipwrecked and rescued by a giant sea turtle. The Philippine Navy published an official account, and the ship that pulled Mrs. Villanueva from the water witnessed that she was, essentially, “aboard” a sea turtle prior to and during their rescue of her. When initially stranded at sea, the woman saw the turtle approach, and she grabbed its shell. The turtle then swam for two days, never diving for food – it went hungry in order to save her. The crew of the rescuing ship thought she was clinging to an oil drum, until they witnessed the object circle three times after Villanueva was being hauled aboard, then dive down into the depths.
Deer Stops Woman From Being Assaulted
In the city of Oxford, Ohio, in 2012, a thief and assailant was attacking a woman by strangling her with her purse straps. As the attacker began to beat her, a deer charged him from some underbrush, scaring him away, and probably saving her life.
Dolphins Carry Woman 200 Miles to Safety
In 1971, a woman named Yvonne Vladislavich was sailing in the Indian Ocean when the yacht she was on exploded and then sank. Since it was a leisure excursion, they were far from any shipping routes, and her chances of being noticed were almost none. Suddenly, three dolphins approached her, one from underneath, allowing her to grab hold of its body. The other two swam circles around her, protecting them from sharks. This went on for many hours until she reached a buoy, where the dolphins left her before she was picked up by a passing ship. They had traveled over 200 miles to get her there safely. If it weren’t for the dolphins, she surely wouldn’t have survived at sea.
Seal Pushes a Shipwrecked Victim to Shore
In Adelaide, Australia, in 1969, a man named Dudley Jones became the only survivor of a boating accident that killed two others, when a seal pushed him to safety on a reef so he wouldn’t drown.