7 True Stories of Animals Rescuing People from Certain Death

You don't have to be pulled out of a well by a plucky collie to know that there is such a thing as hero animals. But when you think of them, you probably picture disaster rescue dogs or a chimp sheriff ... the usual stuff. What you don't picture are lions, gorillas and even whales throwing themselves in harm's way to save some helpless human. But you will now ...

#7. Lions Save Girl from Kidnappers


When you think about which animal you least want to show up when you're wounded and helpless, lions pretty much take the cake (and your face, and then some limbs, because they're lions). They're 300-pound, 6-foot-long cats that look at you as nothing more than a delicacy at a fancy lion restaurant they like to call Africa. But as we've noted before, lions also have a softer kitten center that leads them to care for some unlikely creatures.

Johnny Nunez / Getty
Lil Wayne was nursed by a lioness from age 1 to 17.

In this instance, it's a 12-year-old Kenyan girl who had been missing for a week. It turned out that she had been abducted by several men who were trying to force her to marry one of them (because who has time for romance?). But when the authorities finally found her, she was alone, her kidnappers having fled. Instead, she was surrounded by three lions that had scared away, and hopefully maimed, her captors.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Goddamn lions, that's who.

The police said that the lions had been guarding her for about half a day when they got there, not only abstaining from munching on the little girl themselves, but also making sure that nothing else got close to her. When the police finally arrived, the lions departed, perhaps roaring "Everybody gets one" as they left.

Experts say that the lions might have been reacting to the girl's tears as if they were the mews of a lion cub, but we all know the real reason: The little girl is a Beastmaster.

#6. Gorilla Saves 3-Year-Old Boy

Scott Olson / Getty

The reason you can keep a wild animal in a zoo without it constantly trying to jump out and murder visitors is that most animals are territorial. They are enclosed in a space that they can call their own, and as long as those borders are respected, they are happy to eat, frolic and mate for the entertainment of gawking onlookers.

"Step on the white tile. See what happens."

But that territorial bubble was popped by a 3-year-old boy at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois -- he was right over the gorilla enclosure when he fell over the fence. The 18-foot drop left him unconscious and with a critical head injury. Since gorillas can be dangerously persnickety with their territory, the police were barred from immediate action -- who wants to see a violent battle between a SWAT team and a huge herd of gorillas? Except everyone?

So, with a child in need and no help in sight, Binti Jua stepped in. And as much as that sounds like Indian Superman, it wasn't. Binti just happened to be one of the zoo's gorillas.

Tim Boyle / Getty
Although we guess breast-feeding sort of counts as a superpower.

Binti came to the boy's aid by cradling him in her arms and then bringing him to the enclosure door, where paramedics could get to him. The police and staff were quick to note that without Binti's assistance, the situation could have been much worse.

Oof Ajab Axi
"We're all just lucky she didn't Kong out."

And in case you think we're just misunderstanding the gorilla's actions, it's actually not an isolated incident. Back in the 1980s, another kid fell into a gorilla enclosure, at Jersey Zoo. That time, the gorilla was a male silverback who watched over the unconscious boy and led away the rest of his troop when paramedics arrived. One has to wonder if these gorillas are naturally empathetic to our young or if they just feel sorry for how stupid we apparently are.

#5. Whale Saves Drowning Diver

Daily Mail

We don't know if you've noticed, but China is quickly supplanting Japan as the world's leader in weird-ass news stories. This is a perfect example, because everything about this tale is ridiculous.

It starts with the Polarland Aquarium in Harbin, China, which held a free diving contest in their 20-foot-deep, arctic-temperature whale tank with seven divers who were not allowed to use breathing apparatus. The winning prize was to apply for a job as a whale trainer. Shit! What did the janitors have to do to apply for their jobs? Fight to the death with flaming mops?

"Whoever braves my frigid kingdom will earn the right to feed me raw fish in the bitter cold."

Anyway, 26-year-old Yang Yun was one of the seven lucky divers to participate. Upon reaching the bottom of the pool, her leg cramped and prevented her from swimming properly. Damn it, who could have known that something like this could happen in a diving contest held without breathing equipment in frozen water?

In her panic, she began to choke, which would have led to her imminent drowning in the land that safety regulations and liability insurance forgot. That is, if Mila, one of the two beluga whales in the tank, didn't see the trouble and swim to her rescue.

Daily Mail
Yang Yun, the human floaty toy.

Mila grabbed Yang Yun's leg with her mouth and started forcefully pushing her to the surface. The diver survived, and likely wouldn't have without Mila's help. At this point, we can only assume that aquarium officials shrugged and said, "See? The whale saved her. What's the problem?"

Daily Mail
"The system works!"

#4. Pig Saves Owner from Heart Attack

Annie O'Neill / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via Old Post-Gazette

LuLu the butt-ugly potbellied pig started out as a birthday present given to a woman who couldn't even be bothered to take her home. So the b-day girl's mom, Jo Ann, took the pig instead, partly out of pity, and partly out of anticipation of having ham for Easter lunch. The point is, the pig didn't seem likely to do anything useful anytime soon.

Old Post-Gazette
The damned thing looks like it can barely stand up.

But apparently what LuLu lacked in glamour she made up for in moxie. When Jo Ann had a heart attack, LuLu took one look and sprang into action -- by giving her owner open-heart surgery with her snout. Just kidding -- LuLu bolted for help, which was heroic in itself, considering her girth. The problem was that she had never left the fenced yard before. How would a 150-pound ham ball manage a fence latch? We'll never know, but we've got money on Porky walking upright.

Either way, LuLu escaped her yard and found a highway. She waited for a car to come by, then walked out into the middle of the road and LAID DOWN TO TRY TO GET THE CARS TO STOP. When no one stopped, Lulu would intermittently go back to Jo Ann to make sure she was OK. After 45 minutes of drivers thinking it was perfectly natural to have to swerve to avoid a giant pig on the highway, someone finally stopped to see what was up with Boss Hog using the street for a bed.

Old Post-Gazette
"... and that's when I ate their tires."

He followed LuLu back to the house and discovered that Jo Ann had suffered a heart attack. He called the paramedics, and Jo Ann was saved. As a reward, LuLu received her favorite treat: a jelly doughnut. Which seems kind of cheap, but hey, it's still just a damned pig.

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