We’ve heard of pets saving their owners, but what about wild animals saving total strangers. Wild dolphins, porpoises, and deer have saved humans. As have lions, bears, and whales.
When we think of wild animals, we generally consider one or two scenarios: increasing conflicts with them as humans encroach on the places they live and our response to the situation, or animal rescue missions to save them from a myriad of perils.
There are many situations in which human beings need to solve the plight of an animal or go out on a limb to save their lives. These tales of rescue are often some of our favorite and most heartwarming animal stories.
1.12-year-old girl rescued from kidnappers by lions
In 2005, a 12-year-old Ethiopian girl was reportedly saved from a group of kidnappers by three lions. Seven men had abducted the girl, holding her captive for over a week, to try and force her into marrying one of them. They had beaten and assaulted her repeatedly, but the potential man-eating felines apparently chased off the men and stood guard over the girl for half a day until the police and her family came.
2.Wild beavers keep a boy warm, saving him from freezing to death
Rheal Guindon of Ontario, Canada, was on a camping trip with his parents in when they decided to go out in the boat to go fishing. Rheal stayed on shore, but was horrified when he witnessed the boat tip over and his parents struggle in the water and drown.
He walked toward the nearest town to get help, but when the sun set, he realized he would have to spend the night on the cold, damp ground.
As he laid there crying, he felt a warm, furry body press up against him, which he thought was probably a dog.
Delirious from his ordeal, he fell asleep. In the morning, he awoke to find three wild beavers huddled against him and across his body. They had saved him from freezing to death overnight when the temperatures dipped below zero.
3.Dolphins rescue surfer wounded by shark
At the Polar Land Aquarium in Harbin, China, in 2009, diver Yang Yun took part in a free-diving competition to apply for a whale training job offered there. While diving in the freezing water, she developed a cramp in her leg and found herself unable to swim to safety.
Mila, one of the two beluga whales in the tank, noticed Yun’s distress and came to her rescue, by grabbing her leg in her mouth and forcefully pushing her up to the surface, saving her life.
4.Dolphins Rescue Surfer Wounded by Shark
During an incident in 2007, a monster Great White shark had already attacked Monterey, California, surfer Todd Endris three times, peeling the skin from his back and shearing his right leg to the bone, when a circle of dolphins appeared.
The small pod surrounded him, protecting him from further danger, and guided him back to the shore.
5.Seal saves a group of men from a shark attack
In 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, British tourist Michael Cohen was attacked by a shark and lost almost two gallons of blood after having his right leg severed and his left leg bitten through. As two men swam out to rescue him, the shark geared up for a second attack, when a seal suddenly appeared and started circling the three men.
The seal continued circling, warding off any further attack, until all three made it safely to shore.
6.Seal helps shipwrecked man float to shore
Stories are told of an Australian seal in 1969 that rescued Dudley Jones, the sole survivor of a boating accident that claimed the lives of two people.
Jones was on the verge of drowning when a seal came to his aid by pushing him to the shores on a reef.
7.Bear saves man from mountain lion attack
69-year-old Robert Biggs, from Paradise, California, had been watching a mother bear and her cubs from a safe distance, when he was attacked from behind by a mountain lion, which pounced on his back. Biggs was trying to fight the big cat off with a rock hammer, when suddenly; the mother bear came from out of nowhere and ripped the cat from Biggs’s back, flinging it around by the neck.
After a 15-second clash, the mountain lion ran off, and the bear went back to caring for her young. Biggs walked away with only superficial abrasions, thanks to the mother bear.
8.A giant sea turtle swam a woman to safety on its back
In June of 1974, a 62-year-old woman named Candalaria Villanueva was shipwrecked and rescued by a giant sea turtle. The Philippine Navy published an official account, and the ship that pulled Mrs. Villanueva from the water witnessed that she was, essentially, “aboard” a sea turtle prior to and during their rescue of her. When initially stranded at sea, the woman saw the turtle approach, and she grabbed its shell.
The turtle then swam for two days, never diving for food – it went hungry in order to save her. The crew of the rescuing ship thought she was clinging to an oil drum, until they witnessed the object circle three times after Villanueva was being hauled aboard, and then dive down into the depths.
9.Deer Stops Woman from Being Assaulted
In the city of Oxford, Ohio, in 2012, a thief and assailant was attacking a woman by strangling her with her purse straps. As the attacker began to beat her, a deer charged him from some underbrush, scaring him away, and probably saving her life.
10. Dolphins Carry Woman 200 Miles to Safety
In the early 1970s, Yvonne Vladislavich was traveling on a boat off the coast of Mozambique when the engine stopped working. (Some accounts claim it exploded.) The boat remained adrift until it was sunk by a wave.
Yvonne was a very good swimmer and decided to try to swim to shore. However, some sharks had other plans for her. Six sharks started circling her and kept coming closer until dolphins arrived. The dolphins kept the sharks away and followed Yvonne as she swam/drifted 40 kilometers (25 mi) until she reached a buoy.
Yvonne would have drowned if she hadn’t been assisted by the dolphins. She frequently got tired during the journey and would have gone under if the dolphins hadn’t kept her above the water. She was the only survivor of the four people on the boat.
11. Famous Actor Saved By Porpoises
In 2010, actor Dick Van Dyke revealed on The Late Show with Craig Ferguson that he was once saved by porpoises. Dyke made the revelation after Ferguson asked him if he ever surfed around his home in California. Dyke said he used to but stopped after he almost died.
Dyke claimed he was surfing one day when he feel asleep on his surfboard. He awoke to find himself far away from land. He also had some uninvited guests. He could not see them, but he could see their fins as they circled around him. He initially thought they were sharks, but they turned out to be porpoises. The porpoises pushed him until he returned to shore.
12. Shipwrecked fisherman rescued by a pod of dolphins and two whales
In 2002, Grant Dickson was sailing in his trawler off the coast of Queensland, Australia, when it sank. Dickson was able to hold on to an upturned dinghy. However, he still remained in the water, bleeding, surrounded by some hungry sharks that had started circling around him, patiently waiting for the perfect time to attack.
One shark was clearly aggressive and kept swimming closer. But then some dolphins arrived and chased the sharks away. However, that would not be the end of Dickson’s problems. He remained in the water for 40 hours until he was rescued by a passing ship.
Dickson was the only survivor of the three men on the trawler. One of the two other crewmen had held onto the dinghy with him but left and tried swimming to land. He never made it. The search for the three crewmen involved 18 aircraft flying over 2,000 nautical miles.
13. Silverback gorilla saves toddler from her evil friends
In 1986, Jambo, a male Silverback Gorilla, saved a young boy named Levan Merritt when he fell 12 feet onto a concrete slab in the gorilla enclosure at Jersey Zoo, cracking his skull and falling unconscious. Although male Silverbacks are thought to be incredibly hostile, Jambo stood guard over the boy, placing himself between him and the other gorillas.
He later stroked the unconscious boy’s back and led the other gorillas away and into an enclosure when the boy gained consciousness, allowing for his rescue by an emergency medical team.
14. Sea lion saves man who jumped off Golden Gate Bridge
Cases of surviving a deliberate plunge off of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge are very rare, but perhaps they might occur more often if a helpful sea lion would show up. This is what happened when 19-year-old Kevin Hines decided to jump in September of 2006. Miraculously, he survived the 25-story plunge, but the impact of the water broke his back and shattered vertebrae, and the overwhelming pain rendered him unable to tread water.
But before he started to sink, something brushed his legs. A sea lion was circling him, nudging him, and keeping him above water. Authorities were able to get to him and pull him out of the water, but he surely would have drown due to his injuries had he not been buoyed.
15. Elephant Saves Girl from Tsunami
During the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, an 8-year-old girl named Amber Mason was kept from drowning and was sheltered from the waves by an elephant. As the initial wave struck, the elephant took Amber on its back and ran for higher ground. It also created a protective wall around Amber by turning its back to the wave.
The girl’s family credits the elephant with saving her life, as she would have been separated from them and drowned otherwise