Animal Kingdom's Odd Couples

When Florida farm owner Jim Favreau looked out his window July 20, 2009, during a typical summer downpour, he was mortified to see a litter of day-old piglets struggling to stave off the storm's rising waters in Lee County. After bringing the piglets inside to dry off, Favreau was astounded anew: His dog, a Rottweiler-pit bull mix, was nursing the house's newest denizens, ABC affiliate WZVN reported. "It's amazing, it's awesome," Angel Roman, Favreau's friend, told WZVN. "It's good to see, though. It's good to see good things in life and this is one of them."

Perhaps maternity is species-blind, or so recent events would suggest. After a red panda unexpectedly gave birth to two cubs at the Taiyuan Zoo in northern China, and then promptly abandoned them, zoo officials called on a recently pregnant dog to step in as surrogate mother, China's state news agency reported. The cubs, who have grown to a length of 8 inches since their June 25, 2009, birth, join a dwindling population. Wildlife experts estimate there are fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas in the world.

Three-month-old Asian camel Ldinka bends over a fence to nuzzle an adult Vietnamese miniature pig at the Royev Ruchey Zoo in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, June 2, 2009.

Nimra, a 1-year-old cat, plays with chicks in Amman, May 13, 2007. Nimra took care of seven chicks after their mother's death a month before the photo was taken.

A donkey carrying a lamb in its saddlebag is led by nomads as they head back to their village from summer pastures near the town of Cizre, in southeast Turkey, Oct. 16, 2007.

BoonLua, a long-tailed macaque, lives with Toby, a rabbit, in the Ayutthaya province, about 50 miles north of Bangkok. This Sept. 6, 2008, photo shows BoonLua at age 6. BoonLua lost both legs and one arm during a dog attack three years earlier. He dragged himself to a nearby temple where he received medical treatment and survived. He now lives in a custom built enclosure with the rabbit.

A wolf and a donkey share a cage in the town of Patok, in northwestern Albania, about 25 miles from the capital city Tirana. This May 9, 2007, photo shows the donkey and wolf together. The donkey initially was meant to be fed to the wolf, which was caught in the northern Albanian mountains. But the animals became attached to each other, cohabitating in the cage and attracting curious villagers and local media.

Auan, a 7-year-old female cat, shares a meal with Jeena, a 3-year-old male mouse, at a farmer's house in the central province of Phichit, 281 miles north of Bangkok, Aug. 7, 2002. The animals' owners say Auan found Jeena three years earlier and afterward became his playmate and protector. They said Auan warded off dogs.

It was puppy love for a duck and puppy in China. The Chinese family had a pet duck, and when they took in an abandoned pup, the two became fast friends. They play together, they nap together, and they are rarely out of each other's sight.

A farm worker holds a piglet and two of three tiger cubs rejected by their mother at a zoo in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, on Sept. 24. A pig at a farm in eastern Ukraine is nursing the three newborn tigers along with a dozen of its own piglets.

Three-month-old tiger cub Zoya, rejected by her mother, plays with Alsatian puppy Frida, who's the same age, in a special enclosure at the Warsaw Zoo Aug. 13, 2008. The dog, owned by a zoo employee, was introduced to the tiger so that she could have a companion for the next few months.

Isabella, a yellow lab at the Safari Zoological Park east of Caney, Kan., has adopted three white tiger cubs that were abandoned by their mother in this July 30, 2008, photo.

Subscribe to receive free email updates: