#2. The Kitten That Was Raised by a Crow
Although they don't fit into most of the tightest predator/prey relationship definitions, one wouldn't expect cats and crows to get along anywhere outside a Halloween mural. Cats are notoriously independent, while crows, as we have mentioned before, socialize in groups numbering up to hundreds of thousands. And, of course, there's the minor matter of cats killing anything flying and feathery they can get their claws on.
So Ann and Wallace Collito were somewhat confused when their backyard became the stomping grounds for a crow and cat tag-team that eventually inspired a children's book.
It all started when the Collitos discovered a sickly kitten in their backyard. Before they could lend any assistance of their own, an adult crow approached the kitten, with a meal of worms and bugs. Judging the kitten too weak to feed herself, the crow proceeded to stuff the food directly into her mouth, the exact same way a mother bird feeds her young. When the dumbfounded Collitos approached to get a closer look, the crow actually began taking defensive action, placing itself between the kitten and the humans and generally getting ready to kick some Homo sapiens ass.
"No, really, I don't ... OK, just a little. Thanks, I guess."
The strange coexistence between the Collitos, the paternal raven and the kitten that damn well ate her worms whether she liked it or not persisted for some time, until the strange animal pairing finally learned to trust the human couple. The crow (now nicknamed Moses) allowed the kitten (Cassie) to sleep indoors. During the day, Cassie would head outside to play with her surrogate parent, and if she took her time about it, Moses the crow would actually wander up to the Collitos' door to check out what gives.
"It can't rain all the time ..."
Scientists were completely baffled by this rare and unique display of animal affection, even taking into account the fact that crows are a species that surprises humans on a regular basis. Some speculated that Moses adopted Cassie as a surrogate child after losing his young, but if that were the case, Moses should have abandoned the kitten a few months later, as crows do with their young. Instead, the pair had daily meetings throughout the fall Cassie grew up and the five freaking years that followed, sharing meals and playing as if it was as natural as the scores of slack-jawed scientists that surrounded them.
This gives us an idea. Somebody fetch Israel, Palestine and a ball of string.
#1. Apartment-Raised Lion Cub Maintains His Human-Hugging Habit in the Wild
Let's say you're living in London, England. The year is 1969 and you have 250 guineas to spend -- approximately $4,600 in Today Money. What would you do with it? Well, if you're John Rendall and Anthony Bourke, you've just decided now is the perfect time to go to Harrods and fill the lion-shaped hole in your hearts.
Via Daily Mail
And it made damn sure nobody was going to steal that TV.
Harrods, if you didn't know, is an English department store. They totally rocked an exotic animal section back in the day -- a fact that no doubt helps you realize how much less awesome your shopping mall is. Rendall and Bourke were initially looking at camels, when they suddenly spotted a lion cub in a cage and said pretty much what we would have: "Yes. This is what's going to happen."
So they named the lion Christian and brought him to live in their London apartment. Christian was incredibly affectionate and friendly, known for giving lion hugs by jumping up and placing his front paws on people's shoulders. But soon, Rendall and Bourke came to terms with the cold facts: Adorable or not, Christian was still a freaking lion. And just like anybody who purchased a baby alligator or an infant Shoggoth will tell you, you either give up the pet before it gets too big or find a place to hide the bodies.
Via Daily Mail
Probably should have put it in a higher drawer.
After about a year, Christian was as friendly as ever, but his size was becoming such that Rendall and Bourke worried he might hurt someone by accident. And you don't have to be an expert in wild animals to know that one slip into instinct can leave somebody dead or maimed (see: Siegfried and Roy, and countless others).
So, they made an arrangement with wildlife conservationist George Adamson to reintegrate Christian into the wild. Most domesticated animals find heading back to the wild pretty difficult, but Christian exceeded everyone's expectations by immediately going full Mufasa in Kenya's Kora Reserve, to the point that he actually became the alpha lion of a pride.
Country chicks dig city boys, baby.
After a few years, Rendall and Bourke realized that they were missing their old pal and decided to come back to Kenya for a last visit, against a hefty stack of warnings that Christian was, you know, a lion. He was wild now, and he would not only have forgotten them, but also view them as a potential supper.
Yet there they stood, facing the king of all animals and the leader of its own pride, on his own turf. And the big cat formerly known as Christian, the proudest and most feared lion in all Kenya, took a glance at the two intruders, drew his lungs full, poised to leap ...
... and danced and ran to his old owners like a little kitten, to greet them with the most excited lion hugs he'd given in years.
NOTE: Do not go out and try that yourself.