Animal friends stuff of legend—November 29, 2013
Books about animals are popular with children, and there are a number of books in the children’s collection that tell true stories of unusual friendships between animals of different species.
In December 2004, a frightened young hippo that had been separated from his family by the tsunami in Southeast Asia adopted an ancient tortoise as his “mother.” And the 130-year-old tortoise, that had been a loner for years, accepted the baby hippo as his own. “Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship” by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu tells the story of this inseparable pair. “Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship” by the same authors continues their story and tells of their first year and a half together in a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. Both books are illustrated with color photographs of these unexpected friends.
When Tarra the elephant retired from a life in show business, she became the first resident at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Other elephants came to live there and bonded with each other, each finding a “best friend” to spend most of their time with. However, Tarra didn’t find a best friend until a stray dog appeared one day. “Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends” by Carol Buckley tells the story of their remarkable friendship. Buckley, one of the founders of the Elephant Sanctuary, took the photographs that are used to illustrate their story.
Another stray dog formed an unusual friendship with an orangutan in a wildlife preserve in South Carolina, and their story is told in the book “Suryia & Roscoe: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship” by Bhagavan “Doc” Antle and Thea Feldman. The photographs of these animals playing together will make you smile!
“A Friend for Einstein: The Smallest Stallion” by Charlie Cantrell and Dr. Rachel Wagner is written as a short story in picture book form. The couple purchased little Einstein shortly after he was born to champion miniature horses. Thousands of people made the trip to their small New England town to try to get a glimpse of the tiny horse, but they wanted him to be able to live as if he were no different from other horses. They created this book, illustrated with many photographs, to share their little horse with the world. I enjoyed the pictures of Einstein making friends with their dog and playing with him.
With photographs of many unlikely animal friendships, “Friends” by Catherine Thimmesh gives insights into animals and challenges preconceived notions of compatibility. Here you’ll see an old orangutan with her companion, a stray tabby cat; a lion cub napping with a piglet; a tawny owl snuggling with a basset hound; and many more strange pairs.
You’ll find these stories of friendship in the children’s department of the library!