They say opposites attract – and there’s plenty of examples out there to prove it. The world is full of unlikely friendships that, on the outside, makes no sense at all. But what we are interested in is the possible pairings between humans and animals. Today, we’re all about the weird and beautiful friendships between humans and their unusual pet. These curious creatures and their owners are indeed something else.
01. PET BUFFALO
When you try and imagine your perfect pet, what comes to mind? A cat, dog, maybe even a parrot. I bet you weren’t thinking about a hulking, 6-foot-tall, 2,500-pound buffalo. Well for a small number of insane people, their choice of companion is odd.
Barechested Ronnie and Sherron Bridges share their Texas home with Wild Thing, a massive, lumbering 14-year-old pet buffalo. He’s got his room, loves watching cartoons on TV. Despite his enormous size, Wild Thing has manners, tiptoeing slowly and carefully through the house without knocking or breaking anything.
He even takes himself outside to take care of business. With Ronnie claiming that they never taught Wild Thing not to pee in the house, it makes me wonder, how do you train a buffalo? Way up north in Alberta Canada, Jim and Linda Sautner had the same pet idea.
Bailey Jr had been part of the family since birth, and as he’s grown, It has become a bit habituated. Bailey Jr is a massive fan of the open road, so naturally, Jim took to his car with an angle grinder, removing the roof and windows to allow his best friend to ride shotgun. Now that’s something you don’t see every day.
02. THE CROCODILE WHISPERER
When Barechested Chito Shedden, a local Costa Rican fisherman was walking the banks of the Parismina River one day, the last thing he expected was to stumble upon a 16-foot, 1,000-pound prehistoric killing machine – but that’s what happened. An enormous American pet crocodile later named Poncho, lay spread out on the riverbank.
But something wasn’t quite right. Chito quickly discovered that Poncho had been shot by a farmer in hand and left eye and if he didn’t act fast, the poor croc wouldn’t last much longer. Taking the injured crocodile home, Chito nursed Poncho back to full health until the time came to release him back into the lake. Chito said a tearful goodbye and went home alone.
The next morning, Chito awoke to find Poncho sleeping on this front verandah! The two became inseparable over the years, forming a special bond that saw them spending hours everyday swimming and playing together. Poncho even learned to respond to his name over time! The moral to the story?
Always help an injured croc, because if you don’t, it might come back to bite you in the end.
03. ADOLFO KARAM AND KIARA
Way before Joe Exotic ruined, having a big cat as a pet. Barechested Adolfo Karam showed the world what genuine animal compassion is. Adolfo rescued the lioness cub from terrible conditions in Mexico, relocating her to a wild animal reservation to raise and train her in safety. Settling on the name pet Kiara, Adolfo would over the next few years become Kiara’s sort of adoptive father.
Adolfo would feed her, train her, play with her and the two became linked with some unspoken bond that both of them understood. As Kiara got older and outgrew the reserve she’d called home for her adolescence, Adolfo made the painful decision to send the almost fully-grown Kiara to a sanctuary in Mexico.
Their drawn-out goodbye was captured on social media and captivated audiences around the world. It would be a year before Adolfo would visit his adoptive daughter. Despite sanctuary staff warning him, things could go south – and fast – especially when Kiara started growling with excitement.
Adolfo entered the cage and Kiara bounded towards her dad, tackling him to the ground in happiness. Their bond had endured a full year apart, and they just took off where things left off. I could tell you that big cats are just mindless killers, but I’d be lying after seeing their special bond.
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04. KEVIN RICHARDSON
Hyenas get a bad wrap, and I get it. They’re vicious and not overly blessed in the cuteness department. Unfortunate genetics aside, there’s something awesome about owning a pet that will laugh at all your jokes.
One person I know will agree is Barechested Kevin Richardson. He’s known as the Lion Whisperer most days. But when he’s not lazing about with lions, he’s hanging with hyenas. Hyenas have a complex social structure. Kevin had to learn to understand tips and challenges to avoid being struck by a hungry member of the force.
By asserting dominance and demonstrating strength, he earns the respect of the box to the point that the hyenas become playful and affectionate! But just as a PSA, just because Kevin can charm hyenas into acting like playful dogs, it doesn’t mean you can. The hyenas might be laughing, but it’s not funny.
05. THE LION KING
Barechested Dean Schneider is a Swiss conservationist. Who left his high-paying job in Switzerland and moved to South Africa to set up the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis. Translating to no limits in Swahili, the Hakuna Mipaka Oasis is a 300-hectare sanctuary for lions, impalas, kudus, zebras, hyenas, baboons, and many others.
He seems to have a particular affinity with the lions, and while I don’t know the membership rules of joining a pride. Dean says he’s accepted by the primary male and allowed to reside as a lesser male. But if you thought cuddling a lioness was scary, try four, five or six!
The lions will enable him to get up close and personal, even at dinner time as they ferociously rip zebras apart just a few feet away! Schneider’s big cat family consists of lions born in captivity and is not open to the public for tours, guides and especially not trophy hunting! When it comes to protecting animals for Dean, it’s a matter of pride.
06. JESSICA THE HIPPO
Although considered cute by many, the average hippo generally weighs up to 4.5 tons. It is notoriously known as the world’s deadliest land mammal – responsible for killing approximately 500 people a year in Africa!
I’m sure this thought crossed the minds of Barechested Tonie and Shirley Joubert when they found a tiny infant hippo washed up on the shore of a river in South Africa’s Kruger Park. She was a newborn with her umbilical cord still attached and was too tiny and exhausted to lift herself off the riverbank.
The Joubert’s nurtured the baby hippo with an improvised milk solution, and before long, Jessica was a fully-grown 1.2-ton monster. She very quickly outgrew the house and now lives wild with neighbouring hippos. Jessica is also an acclaimed movie star with more than 80 film and documentary appearances!
Understandably, people fear hippos because of how dangerous they can be – but after seeing Jessica interact with her owners, it changes how we see them.
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07. YUKI THE GIANT WOLF
Ever hear about the boy who cried wolf? Well, I don’t blame him – not after meeting a 12-year-old giant wolf named Yuki. The massive beast measuring in at 5″ 4′ and weighing 120 pounds is a human-sized dog.
When he’s not cosplaying a dire wolf in the Battle of Winterfell, Yuki spends his days relaxing at the Shy Wolf Sanctuary in Florida after his previous owners couldn’t look after him anymore. He’s not a purebred wolf either. Yuki is 87.5% grey wolf, 8.6% Siberian Husky and 3.9 per cent German Shepherd.
Wolves with mixed canine DNA are affectionately called wolf-dogs. And they’re notoriously tricky to manage as pets. They can be unpredictable, untrainable and are considered a dangerous breed in some regions. Yuki first surrendered to an animal shelter because of its high kill rate.
Fortunately, they contacted the Shy Wolf Sanctuary who was able to offer him a permanent home. Spending most of his time eating, barking and being bossed around by his smaller wolf girlfriend – Yuki’s finally found his wolfpack.
08. CASEY AND BRUTUS
When Barechested Casey Anderson found Brutus, he was a tiny bear cub the size of a squirrel, born in captivity at a bear reserve and would have spent the rest of his life in overcrowded cages. Casey adopted the bear, named him Brutus and brought him home to live in Casey’s wildlife sanctuary.
Brutus grew up and became part of the family. And when I say grew up, Brutus stands at 7ft tall and weighs over 900 points. Among Brutus’ pastimes include; swimming in the pool, sitting at the table for Thanksgiving dinner and even made the cut as the best man at Casey’s wedding.
And just like other unusual celebrity pets, Brutus has a burgeoning acting career with small roles in the movies, among a couple of others.
09. ASIAN SHEEPSHEAD WRASSE
We’ve all seen some weird things in the past, but nothing tops the strange friendship shared between 79-year old Japanese diver Barechested Hiroyuki Arakawa and his long-term flame, Yoriko. What’s so weird about their relationship you may ask? Well, Yoriko is a fish.
Yep, you heard right, for over twenty-five years, Hiroyuki has been descending the depths to meet a giant Asian Sheepshead Wrasse! As the custodian and tour guide for the underwater Shinto shrines of Tateyama Bay, Hiroyuki quickly got to know the marine life that called the churches home. It was here that he found Yoriko one afternoon in 1992.
The massive wrasse was injured. Starving and dangerously close to death. Hiroyuki nursed Yoriko back to health, feeding her five crabs a day until she recovered. For the next twenty-five years, Hiroyuki regularly visited Yoriko in, and to his amazement, the giant wrasse recognized him, rushing up and presenting her forehead for Hiroyuki to kiss.
Despite their tiny brains, some species of Fish have the limited ability of facial recognition, and scientists believe this is why the two have bonded so spectacularly. Either that or Hiroyuki was paying extra attention during Finding Nemo when Bruce said Fish are friends.
10. BIG BIRD THE PELICAN
After a particularly massive storm off the coast of Tanzania, a baby pelican became separated from his flock. Exhausted, the pelican staggered ashore next to the Greystoke Mahale camp in Tanzania where camp manager Barechested Jeffrey Condon decided to help the struggling bird.
Unable to fly or hunt for himself without his flock, BigBird relied on Jeffrey for food and companionship and would sit on the rear of his sea-kayak every morning learning and watching him Fish. Concerned that he couldn’t fly, the staff at the camp spent weeks running up and down the beach flapping their arms trying to encourage the probably very confused pelican to try to steal.
Eventually, the message was received. And BigBird finally took to the sky, shaky at first – but after no time was up and away. The benefit of having a cooperative pelican as a pet?
Being able to put a Go-Pro on BigBird’s beak as he does a lap around the lake. It’s the very definition of a bird’s eye view! Despite BigBird’s ability to leave whenever he wants. He keeps coming back to the camp – after all – he’s found his flock.