Awww! 12 Incredible Interspecies Moms in the Animal Kingdom

Different species? No problem


(Image credit: Grigorita Ko/Shutterstock)

Mother's Day is a time to celebrate the important role that moms play in the lives of their children. But human mothers aren't the only ones worth celebrating. There are plenty of hardworking mothers in the animal kingdom that also deserve recognition for their parenting. In fact, some animals' maternal instincts even go beyond the bounds of their species. Check out these incredible stories of interspecies parenting — from a French bulldog that adopted wild boar piglets to a cat that nursed baby chicks.

French bulldog and piglets


(Image credit: Michael Sohn/AP)

A French bulldog named Baby "adopted" six little wild boar piglets when they were brought to the Lehnitz animal sanctuary outside Berlin, Germany, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Only three days old, the piglets were shivering from cold when they arrived. Baby started snuggling them and keeping them warm, a sanctuary worked told the AP. The piglets' mother was likely killed by a hunter, and the litter was found in a forest. While the piglets were bottle-fed, Baby would attend their feeding and look over the litter, reported the AP.

Macaque monkey and kitten


(Image credit: Solent News/Rex/Zuma)

This long-tailed macaque was photographed tenderly holding a white-and-ginger kitten, which was only about 7 weeks old, in her arms as if it was her own baby. According to the photographer, the pet monkey cared for the feral kitten — grooming it and ensuring it was safe from harm — on the edge of a small river in the village of Lingsar, Lombok, Indonesia.

Dog and baby pig


(Image credit: Animal Press/Getty)

Katjinga, an 8-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, became a surrogate mother for Paulinchen, a tiny Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, after the piglet was rejected by her mother. The giant farm dog gladly accepted the piglet as one of her own pups, and even started feeding her with her own milk.

Baboon and bush baby


(Image credit: Alamy)

This seven-month-old yellow baboon was rescued in northern Kenya and brought to the Animal Orphanage at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters in Nairobi. There, the baboon met a young galago, or bush baby, that was rescued in central Kenya. After meeting at the orphanage, the baboon "adopted" the galago, giving it affection and protecting it as if it were her own offspring.

Greyhound and owl


(Image credit: Newscom)

After a tiny, baby owl named Shrek had to be taken from her mother for her own protection at just three days old, a dog stepped in as caretaker. Torque, a 6-month-old greyhound, bonded with the owl at an animal center and would act as the bird's protector.

Hippo and tortoise


(Image credit: Newscom)

Baby hippo Owen was separated from his family during a tsunami, and was taken to a sanctuary in Mombasa, Kenya. At the sanctuary, Owen was scared, according to his caretakers, and hid behind a giant tortoise named Mzee. Mzee, a 130-year-old male Aldabran tortoise, became Owen's new "mother." The pair was soon inseparable, with the young hippo nudging the ancient tortoise to take walks together.

Duck and chicks


(Image credit: JoAnn Schultz/YouTube)

This duck was determined to be a mother, according to her owner, but was alone on the farm without a mate. An unattended nest of chicken eggs drew the duck in, and she sat on the nest until the eggs hatched — treating the chicks like her own.

Dog and Siberian tigers


(Image credit: China Photos/Getty Images)

A golden retriever at the Changchun Zoo in China became the surrogate mother for a pair of newborn Siberian tigers. The tigers were delivered by an 8-year-old circus tiger, but the dog took on mothering duties, including nursing the tigers along with two puppies.

Elephant and sheep


(Image credit: National Geographic/YouTube)

When Themba's mother died, the 6-month-old elephant calf had difficulty adjusting to life in his new home at a rehabilitation center, according to a National Geographic video. A conservation team thought the young elephant could use the company of a new maternal figure, which turned out to be a male sheep from a nearby farm. Albert the sheep made Themba calmer and more comfortable, and the calf slowly gained his health back.

Gorilla and kittens


(Image credit: kokoflix/YouTube)

Koko the gorilla adopted two kittens on her 44th birthday, and her maternal instinct quickly kicked in, according to the Gorilla Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the protection and preservation of gorillas and other great apes. Koko nurtured and protected the kittens as if they were her own babies. The gorilla's caretakers said looking after the kittens energized Koko's world.

Kacey Deamer
Staff Writer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.