9 True Stories That Prove Animals Feel the Same Emotions We Do
These real-life stories from readers prove that animals, both pets and wildlife, can amuse, help, and inspire us.
In the mid-1980s, I had just completed a successful season with my jazz duo in London, and we were booked for a six-month contract at The Golden Hat Piano Bar in Paris. One night, just before our 1 a.m. finish and when the crowd had thinned out, a young man in blue jeans and a light leather jacket walked in with his small companion. He chose a table near the band and ordered a cocktail for himself and an orange juice for his friend.
They sat and listened to the music. When we had finished the number, the little friend, who was dressed in overalls and a red-checkered cap, carefully put his orange juice down on the table, and they both clapped enthusiastically.
Well, we couldn’t very well stop at that when we had two such delightful customers enjoying the music, so we played on for another half hour, thoroughly enjoying our small but select audience.
What made it an occasion to remember was that the pleasant young man could have been from anywhere, but his little companion—was a chimpanzee!
Surely, only in Paris!—Leigh Weston
Tiger earns his stripes
My cat, Tiger, hates it when I use my iPad because it takes my attention away from him. One year, I had a fall at home and was on the floor for 16 hours. During this time, I was unable to move and couldn’t get to the phone to call for help. Tiger stayed by my side until he vanished under my bed.
What’s he up to? I wondered. To my surprise, he started to push something toward me. It was my iPad, which I didn’t realize had fallen off the bed and onto the floor underneath. He probably didn’t know what it was, but he knew that it made me happy.
Thanks to Tiger, I was able to contact a friend, who then contacted emergency services. I spent the next eight days in hospital recovering. When I returned home, I bought Tiger a salmon out of gratitude.—Ray Betteridge
Gentleman in the city
A few years ago, after a long morning of sightseeing in New York, my children and I took a breather on a park bench in Central Park.
“Look!” my son said, pointing to a nearby rubbish bin. That’s when we saw our first raccoon. Quite at home in the big city, he paid us no heed, concentrating only on finding a tasty lunch. He sorted through a few options before emerging with a wrapped sandwich held between his paws.
Satisfied, he jumped down and ambled casually to a spot on the gravel path, not a meter from where we sat. The children were mesmerized, the raccoon providing better entertainment than any museum.
He glanced at us, perhaps as reassurance that we weren’t about to pilfer his lunch. With delicate fingers, he peeled back the layers of plastic wrap until the half-eaten sandwich was uncovered. Then, he surprised us all. Instead of starting his food, he turned to a nearby rain puddle and dipped his hands in. With a casual air, he rubbed his hands together underwater for a moment, preened his whiskers, then started genteelly picking at his meal.—Elizabeth Strachan
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Pushed to the edge
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I got my new guide dog, Zeke, in 2011. He’s a black Labrador who loves everyone. Sadly, Zeke can become a little too enthusiastic, which does not go well with Cocoa and Latte, my two Burmese cats.
One day, when Zeke really annoyed Latte, she waited until he went to bed before exacting her revenge. She scaled a 1.8-meter bookshelf that stood directly behind Zeke’s bed and squeezed behind a suitcase that sat on top. Once in position she walked back and forth, using all her weight to push on the suitcase. With a loud crash, the suitcase toppled off the edge.
Zeke woke with a fright and dodged out of the way before the suitcase tumbled to the floor. I thought it must have been an accident until Latte did it again two weeks later after Zeke had got on her nerves again. It wasn’t until the third attempt that I decided to move Zeke’s bed to a safer spot. Zeke hasn’t annoyed Latte since.—Kathryn Beaton
Paying their respects
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On a frosty, winter morning in June, we awoke at about 7:30 a.m. to find that our dear goat Clarabelle, who was slightly overdue, had given birth to—and lost—her baby. This was her second pregnancy. She had twins the previous year, but this time she only had the one and she was very distraught. Her big eyes looked sadly into mine.
One of the most memorable things that occurred during the morning was the procession of animals that went in and out of the pen to pay their respects to Clarabelle and her little one, which we decided to name Rosie. Cats went in with chickens and ducks and, of course, the other goats.
Her best friend Annie came in with her newborn twin kids, while Gus and Roddy, our male goats, looked on through their fenced paddock.
There were no fights and it was unusually quiet; all the animals were very somber. Our cat Tabitha even licked the baby and rubbed around Clarabelle, which would not normally happen. Birds sat quietly and looked on from the trees, and the air was heavy with grief. It is something I will always remember.
We left Clarabelle to grieve with her baby for a day. She didn’t want to leave it. She was fretful and “cried” for days and didn’t want to eat anything. It took a fortnight or more for her to get through her mourning period.—Tracey Ney
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Years ago we owned an English setter named John, who often suffered from infected or sore ears. He was constantly being treated for it and absolutely loved ear rubs as they seemed to make him feel better.
One day my brother’s pet pig, Chloe, was in the front yard with John. When John settled down for a nap, Chloe trotted over and started rubbing behind John’s ears with her snout. He groaned with relief so Chloe continued rubbing his ears enthusiastically.
From that day on, whenever John lay down, Chloe would trot over to rub his ears. Maybe animals have a sixth sense, and hers told her John needed an ear rub.—Paula Glennie
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Better than a bear hug
In the 1970s, I worked as the carnivore keeper for a large U.K. zoo where one of the earliest successful breedings of a polar bear in captivity took place.
The mother and her male cub were left undisturbed for three months following the cub’s arrival. However, by the time the pair was finally released into the outside enclosure, their swimming pool had been drained of water and filled with a thick layer of straw.
A crowd of VIPs and reporters gathered to witness the cub’s first public appearance. As soon as the pair emerged, the fluffy cub began exploring his surroundings and waddled up a ramp that led to a diving platform that projected five meters out over the pool. Suddenly, the layer of straw seemed inadequate.
Everyone held their breath as the cub peered down at the long drop below. He leaned even further forward and lost his balance, somehow managing to dangle helplessly by his forepaws from the edge of the platform. Realizing his predicament, the cub let out an anguished howl.
His mother had been exploring the far side of the enclosure, completely oblivious to her newborn’s predicament. At the sound of his distress, she raced across, jumped down into the pool, raised herself on her hind legs directly beneath him and stretched out her front paws. The cub released his hold on the ledge and dropped onto his mother’s waiting forelegs. She lowered him gently onto the layer of straw and then cuffed him around the ear before returning to her exploration of the enclosure.—Nicholas Ordinans
Our parakeet, Chip, and Goldie, a stray tortoiseshell kitten we took in, grew to be best friends, eating and playing together. I was a member of a bird conservation organization at the time, so we often took care of injured birds. Goldie helped raise dozens of injured and orphaned native birds, acting as a watchful guardian.
One day, it was Chip who needed Goldie’s supervision. I had left a large bowl of pancake batter uncovered in the kitchen. But while I was out of the room, Chip climbed onto the bowl to have a taste but soon fell in and sank. Luckily, Goldie was on hand and stuck her face in the bowl to fish Chip out. She cleaned his face and beak so he could breathe before running to alert me with a loud meow.
I followed Goldie, who was also covered in batter, back into the kitchen and found a battered budgie on the floor. After being washed, dried, and warmed, Chip made a full recovery. Bowls were always covered in future, and Goldie and Chip remained the best of friends.—Anne Marr
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Years ago, my friend Julius rescued an injured cockatoo from the side of the road and kept it as a pet. As the vet had to amputate one of her wings, she was unable to return to the wild. Soon, wild cockatoos came visiting and one amorous male bird managed to find his way into the cage.
“Mom” Cocky was soon expecting but as she couldn’t fly, “Dad” Cocky gave up his freedom and built a nest in the backyard, fending off everyone who approached his bird bride. “Baby” Cocky eventually fledged and spent his days flying off with his dad, leaving his mom behind. She would sit and screech until they returned home each afternoon.
The family stuck together and each night Mom and Dad would sit and lovingly groom each other. A true lesson in devotion!—Colin Stringer
For more incredible true tales, check out these amazing animals that helped change history.