Crazy True Stories of Wild Animals Saving People’s Lives

Animals are a lot smarter than people think — maybe even smarter than people sometimes.

You’ve probably heard some amazing stories about household pets rescuing their owners in various ways — such as alerting them to house fires or even sniffing out cancer. But one could argue that domesticated animals are so attuned to people because they’re around them all the time. Is it possible for a wild animal to save a human? And even if it is possible, would they even bother?

It turns out the answer is yes. Read on for the inspiring real-life examples of wild animals risking their own lives and safety for the sake of people.

1. Lions rescue a little girl from kidnappers

Lion in field

The lions scared off the kidnappers. | iStock/Getty Images

In 2005, a 12-year-old Kenyan girl was kidnapped by four men while walking home from school. It’s a far-too-common story that could have ended in tragedy — if not for the pride of lions who stepped in to save her.

A week after the abduction, the kidnappers were chased off by three lions who guarded the victim until police arrived to rescue her. Police say they found the girl “shocked and terrified” — and surrounded by lions. The massive beasts quickly dispersed when officers arrived. She was bruised from being manhandled by the kidnappers, but the lions never laid a paw on her.

Lion experts (and skeptics) say it’s possible that the lions were planning to eat the girl themselves but were dissuaded by her crying, which sounds a lot like the sound a baby lion cub makes. Either way, these lions should be celebrated as the heroes they truly are.

Next: This mother animal knew just what to do when a child was in danger.

2. Gorilla mama saves 3-year-old boy

Baby Gorilla Draws Visitors To Chicago's Brookfield Zoo

The mama gorilla picked up the baby and brought him to the door. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Gorillas are extremely territorial animals, which is part of what makes it so dangerous when people come in contact with them, either in the wild or at a zoo.

That’s part of what makes this next story so incredible. When a 3-year-old boy accidentally fell into the gorilla enclosure at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, employees anticipated the worst. Giant gorillas can maim or even kill full-grown men — so you can only imagine the damage they’re capable of inflicting on a toddler.

But thankfully, that day turned out differently. After the little boy fell in, Binti, a 7-year-old female gorilla with a baby on her back, ran over to the boy and picked him up. Then, she carried him carefully over to the door of the exhibit, so rescue workers could retrieve him.

Next: This unexpected savior ran into traffic to get help.

3. Pig saves owner from a heart attack

Potbelly pig

The pig is one of the smartest animals. | Axel Heimken/AFP/Getty Images

It’s almost expected that your dog might try to save you if you suffer a major medical event. But what about a pig?

LuLu was a birthday gift for a woman who didn’t even want her, so the lady’s mom took pity on the pig and adopted her instead. And she was glad she did. When owner JoAnn suffered a heart attack at home, the pig ran to find help, even though she had never been outside the fenced yard before.

After somehow opening the gate latch, LuLu sprinted into traffic and laid down in the middle of the road to try and signal people to stop. When everyone ignored her, LuLu kept going back to the house to check on JoAnn (while the family dog just stood around barking uselessly). Eventually, a man stopped and followed the brave pig home to see what the matter was. The rescuer found JoAnn having a heart attack and called for help immediately.

LuLu’s prize for saving JoAnn’s life? A jelly doughnut. And probably a free pass from becoming bacon, of course.

Next: A 50,000-pound animal seems like an unlikely lifesaver.

4. A whale saved a snorkeler from a shark

Whale rescues woman from shark

The whale was protecting the tiger from the lurking shark. | National Geographic via YouTube

When marine biologist Nan Hauser felt a 50,000-pound humpback whale nudging her during a dive, she was confused, as that’s not typical behavior for a whale. “I’ve spent 28 years underwater with whales, and have never had a whale so tactile and so insistent on putting me on his head, or belly, or back, or, most of all, trying to tuck me under his huge pectoral fin,” Hauser told the Daily Mirror.

The reason behind that gentle touch? It’s simply extraordinary.

When Hauser looked around, she noticed a 15-foot tiger shark lurking in the distance. For no obvious reason other than pure kindness, the whale was trying to protect her from the shark by tucking her underneath his fin.

Scientists believe this instinct comes from the whale’s desire to protect its calves from predators. In Hauser’s case, the whale potentially saved her life — and best of all, she caught the whole thing on video.

Next: This barnyard friend saved his owner from certain death.

5. Horse saves farmer from vicious cow attack

Horse stands in a green field with a fence.

The horse’s intervention allowed her to roll to safety. | HaizhanZheng/iStock/Getty Images

It’s strange but true: Cows kill four times as many people as sharks do every year.

That’s why it’s not a huge surprise that Scottish farmer Fiona Boyd was suddenly attacked by a mother cow who thought she was hurting her calf (when really she was just trying to help it). The mad cow butted, shouldered, and stomped on Boyd and surely would have continued the beating until she was dead. Luckily, Boyd’s horse Kerry stepped in and kicked the attacking cow, allowing Boyd enough time to roll to safety.

“I am in no doubt Kerry saved me. If she hadn’t been grazing in the same pasture, I really believe I would have been killed. Kerry was fantastic. She saved my life,” Boyd told reporters.

Next: This small animal knew something was wrong — and took action.

6. Rabbit saves man from diabetic coma

Cute rabbit sitting on marble surface

The pet rabbit drew attention to his coma. | artemisphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Rabbits aren’t known for being the smartest creatures, which is part of what makes this next story so surprising.

U.K. resident Simon Steggall went into a diabetic coma while sitting at home watching TV with his wife. That easily could have been the end of him — if not for his pet rabbit.

The animal knew something was seriously wrong and jumped onto her owner’s chest and began thumping furiously and licking his face. The odd behavior caught the attention of the man’s wife, who originally thought he had just fallen asleep watching television. Thanks to the rabbit’s perceptive antics, his wife called the paramedics and the man’s life was saved.

Next: This smiling ocean creature is known to save lives.

7. Dolphins save lifeguards from a great white shark

Pod of dolphins swimming in New Zealand

They kept the shark at bay until the rescue boat made it over. | Corinna Halloran/Team SCA/Volvo Ocean Race via Getty Images

There’s a reason so many people love dolphins — and it’s not just because they always look like they’re smiling.

Rob Howes was swimming with three other lifeguards, including his 15-year-old daughter, off the coast of New Zealand when a pod of dolphins rushed toward them and formed a circle. The dolphins closed in tightly and started slapping the water violently. At first, the lifeguards were confused. Then, Howes spotted the great white shark.

“The form came and traveled in an arc around me. I knew instinctively what it was,” Howes said.

But the dolphin chain was enough to keep the shark at bay until a rescue boat got close enough to scare the mighty beast away. The dolphins stayed close until the group was safely back to shore.

Read more: These Are the Heroic Pets Who Saved People’s Lives

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