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This page highlights stories and information that shows that animals are capable of forming friendships

This page is part of a section concerning animal sentience which relates true stories, information and accounts of animal sentience.
For an introduction: Animal Sentience Stories

Emotion Love Altruism Empathy Pleasure Intelligence and ingenuity
Friendship Jealousy Grief Language


 Sixth Sense

Animals Have a Sense of beauty

Animal Morality Mental Health  

Click the links above to go to read stories and information that highlight these characteristics and abilities in animals.


Animals have friends. Cows have groups of friends and mutually groom one another. Sheep also have special friends, like these two Blue faced Leicester sheep.

Sheep show affection for one another in many ways such as one sheep laying his head upon the back of another sheep.

Giraffes were once thought to have no social attachments, however recent observations prove the contrary.*) Bats form human like relationships and have long term friendships indicating that it is not only animals with large brains, such as elephants, dolphins, and apes, who are able to form lasting friendships. In fact it is  is thought that bats are better at maintaining long term friendships than we are *)

Often people view reptiles as emotionless simply because they do not interact with us in the way we expect. Reptiles however are capable of emotion, able to show affection and form friendships. Below is an unusual story of friendship between an alligator and a cat:

An alligator which was kept tame for several years became so much attached to its master that ' it followed him about the house like a dog, scrambling up the stairs after ; him, and showing much affection and docility.' The favourite friend and companion of this alligator was the cat ; and, whenever the cat stretched herself on the floor in front of the fire, the alligator would lie down beside her, with its head on the cat, and go to sleep. ' When the cat was absent, the alligator was restless, but it always appeared happy when the cat was near it '

The Universal Kinship Howard J Moore

In the following video a squirrel is loyal to his friend right to the end and defends the body of his dead companion

Amazing Squirrel Fights off Crows - Protects Dead Friend's Body


Although it is obvious to many people who have contact with animals on a regular basis, such as those who enjoy the company of companion animals, that animals form friendships with one another and members of other species scientists often remain sceptical until research is carried out.

Research in this areas is beginning to attest to the fact that animals form friendships, many in ways perhaps unique to their species but also in ways very like ourselves. Recent research has determined that at least five species of animal are able to form friendships comparable to humans including dolphins, primates, elephants and certain carnivores and now added to that list are bats.

Over a five year period several colonies of bats were monitored during a study conducted by Gerald Kerth, a professor at the University of Greifswald's Zoological Institute, and colleagues Nicolas Perony and Frank Schweitzer

The group of bats studied were wild Bechstein's bats. Although the males are solitary it has been observed that the females maintain long term humanlike friendships with specific individuals while maintaining loose ties with all members of the colony. They roost in the same bat boxes and tree cavities and communicate with one another, make group decisions where to communally roost and groom each other despite the chaos of day to day living. Furthermore these friendship just like ours are maintained over the years . Female bats also act as midwives. Their is a reported case of an unrelated female bat who hugged and groomed a pregnant bat through the birthing process.

Not only do these findings show that bats like us are sentient beings capable of forming friendship but it also shows that small brained animals are also capable of forming friendships in the same way as animals with larger brains.  This is an important discovery which may negate the theory that humans evolved large brains to become a dominant species because of the need to maintain relationships in an ever-changing social setting.  It has now to be considered that other factors may have played a role.  It is now obvious that perhaps smaller brained animals may actually excel us in their ability to maintain friendships.

For more detail concerning friendship amongst bats can be accessed by clicking the link below

Elephants remember their Friends

Elephants form close and long lasting friendships, living in matriarchal societies they form a bond that lasts for decades even if parted for many years. Separated from one another two elephants named Shirley and Jenny were unexpectedly reunited after twenty-two years. Having both suffered abuse in the name of entertainment both these animals were sent to live out the rest of their lives in the peace of an animal sanctuary. Although separated by individual stalls upon meeting the two elephants exhibited impatience to get into the same stall together. They roared at each other, roaring is a traditional elephant greeting, touching each other through the bars of their enclosure exhibiting signs of friendship rather than the timidity and caution  of a new acquaintance. Their carers were so amazed by this obvious friendly relationship that a search was carried out into their backgrounds and it was discovered that the elephants had lived together in a circus. *)

Meredith Bradshaw, a beginning graduate student, in her quest to find evidence of friendship in Giraffes began to look for evidence in Atlanta zoo, the zoo was about to send away its male Giraffe who had shared the same enclosure with two females, neither of whom had ever been pregnant.  A reaction as a result of the separation was not expected. However there was a significant reaction in that the two females increased the time they spent licking the fence of their enclosure and pacing back and forth all indicators that something is wrong.

Read more, including other animal friendship stories:
Beast buddies: do animals have friends? An article by by Susan Milius

Interspecies Friendship

Animals often form friendships with members of another species even humans.

Here is a story about a rabbit called Frick and his many friends. After Frick's brother  Frack , a rabbit with whom he had enjoyed an inseprable companionship left to go to another farm to heal from an injury, Frick became lonely and withdrawn until one day he befriended Patycake' s kitten Pat until she became too lively and active for him, at which time they went their separate ways. Undaunted Frick went on to seek many friendships elsewhere. Click the link below to read about the friendships forged by Frick the rabbit including an unlikely companionship with Favour the donkey. Later this unlikely duo was joined by Lady the horse and the three became inseperable

Here is a Story about the Friendship between a Human and a bird as a friendly Robin visits a tree surgeon

A friendship between a dog and an elephant

Bella a dog and Tarra an elephant live at Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, eight miles south of Nashville in the USA. When Bella came to the Sanctuary in 2002 a bond quickly developed between the two unlikely companions. "I suspect that small vulnerable little animal brought out a maternal instinct in her, and hence there was a match made in heaven," said Richard Atkinson of the Elephant sanctuary. Sadly Bella died probably as a result of an attack by coyotes. Tarra found the body of his friend and carried her with his truck to the barn where the two spent most of their time. Tarra turned to another elephant for support in her grief the way that elephants do at such times when when comfort is most needed. Tarra has according to caregivers been quieter than usual mourning the loss of her canine friend.

Read more of this moving story of friendship and grief. Also a video


Unusual Animal Friends

A slideshow of the different interspecies relationships between animals.


Also read about the unusual Friendship between a dog and a sheep

And the story of a friendship between a tortoise and an hippopotamus

Links to more animal friendship stories:

Another great video concerning unusual animal friendships

BEST FRIENDS: The fox and the hound

Incredible photos of the friendship between  a fox and a dog Sniffer and Tinni, a pair of best friends that met while they were both strolling through a Norwegian forest.

Continue reading and see more photographs like the one above


This page  will be updated and added to when further information and stories are found. If you have a story to tell about animal friendship please consider including it here by e-mailing Christine Contact




Shirley and Jenny: Remembering Friends


Rabbit banner photo

Photo: Wisconsin, U.S.A. - House Sparrow, Baby -(c) 2006 by Wanda Embar, vegan peace.

* I have endeavoured to provide accurate references for stories found on the internet however some of the stories are so frequently repeated that the original source is not easily identifiable. If you see any story here that is yours for which you have not been credited for or have not given permission for its inclusion please Contact me.



Credit Photo: (c) 2008 by Wanda Embar, Vegan Peace. Picture taken at Farm Sanctuary.

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Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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