People inherently care for animals. We see a dog being beat up by a stranger and we take action to put a stop to the violence. We see a cat trapped on the roof and we sound the alarm.

But why should people care?

Pig plays dead to save a life

Jo Ann Altsman and her husband Jack decided to babysit their daughter’s pot-bellied pig named Lulu. Because of the bond they’ve built, the couple became Lulu’s new parents. However, the story doesn’t end there, because this clever pig saved her human mother’s life, according to a 2016 article on Sunny Skyz.

While her husband was away, Altsman fell to the floor and tried to call for help, but no one was around. Their only dog barked non-stop, to no avail.

Lulu knew she had to get someone’s attention fast! So, she ran out and played dead in the middle of the road. When a trucker noticed her and checked if she was injured, she led the man to their home.

The doctor said that if it wasn’t for Lulu’s brilliant ploy and fast response, Altsman wouldn’t have made it.

Gorillas protect kids

He never left the boy’s side, making sure no other gorilla came near him until rescuers arrived.

In 1996, a three-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure, according to a 2016 article by Julia Jacobo published in ABC News. Binti Jua, a female lowland gorilla, guarded the young boy and carried him 60 feet to an entrance where zoo-keepers could retrieve him.

Animal advocates now argue that these cases show how unfair it was that Harambe, a western lowland gorilla, was shot dead when a child fell into his enclosure, especially after videos surfaced showing he was trying to protect the child. Sadly, these incidents could have been prevented if all gorillas were left alone to live in the wild where they belong.

Calf saves woman from snake

Janice Wolf couldn’t explain why an 11-month-old Watusu calf suddenly blocked her path while she was at the refuge she operated in, according to a 2016 article by Benazir Raz for Dawn. Not knowing why the calf was doing this, she tried to hold the calf by the horns to push the animal out of the way.

The calf knocked her off balance. Wolf then found a copperhead snake on the ground, exactly where her foot would have been if the calf had not intervened.

While copperhead venom isn’t fatal to adults, Wolf said it might have been for her because she had developed sensitivity even to minor insect bites, especially after she had just been discharged from the hospital due to a lung operation.

Nobody drowns with a dolphin around

Fourteen-year-old Davide Ceci didn’t know how to swim. While in Italy, he was pulled under by a current, reported Brent Swancer in a 2019 article for Mysterious Universe. A popular dolphin, named Filippo by the locals, a copperhead snake on the ground, exactly where her foot would have been if the calf had not intervened, pushed him up towards the surface.

Filippo stayed by Ceci’s side and pushed the boy in the direction of his father until he was rescued.

Lions protect kidnapped girl

According to a 2005 report from NBC News, a 12-year-old girl from Ethiopia was abducted by men who wanted to force her into marriage. After a week of searching, rescuers found her being guarded by three lions.

The lions allegedly sensed she was in danger, chased her captors away, and guarded her until she was found by the police. “They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo told The Associated Press.

A wildlife expert explained that the girl’s cries could explain why the lions came to her rescue.

Shared compassion

While this is a short list of animals saving humans, there are many other reports. These stories prove that regardless of their species, animals have the capacity to understand certain scenarios and act accordingly to protect humans and even other animals.

The more scientists try to study animal behavior, the more they understand that compassion is inherent not only in humans, but also in other creatures. When we start to make this connection with other species, we see more of the things that they share with us, such as compassion. We then realize that the animals are truly here with us, not for us.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s January 2020 issue.

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