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Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom (Paperback)

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Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom By Jennifer S. Holland Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

Unlikely Friendships is one of those utterly charming books that you buy as a birthday present, but end up perusing yourself before putting the wrapping paper on. The book features beautiful photographs of animals who have found each other despite all odds—a hippopotamus and a pygmy goat, for example, and an owl and a cocker spaniel, even a dog and a dolphin! Alongside the photographs are the stories of how these animals came together, and how their oddly symbiotic relationships work. There is an undeniably cutesy aspect at work—the cover image of a baby macaque cuddling a dove is enough to illicit an “awwww” from the hardest of hearts—but there’s also a very educational side to this book. Each story contains information about the animals, from behavioral traits and habitat to kingdom, phylum, class, etc., and attempts to find a scientific explanation for their unusual relationships. The result is a smart and surprising book that might change the way you look at the animal kingdom. Even scientist and professor Temple Grandin is smitten; she calls the book “amazing.”

— Kat


It is exactly like Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . ” Written by National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer Holland, Unlikely Friendships documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. A cat and a bird. A mare and a fawn. An elephant and a sheep. A snake and a hamster. The well-documented stories of Koko the gorilla and All Ball the kitten; and the hippo Owen and the tortoise Mzee. And almost inexplicable stories of predators befriending prey—an Indian leopard slips into a village every night to sleep with a calf. A lionness mothers a baby oryx. Ms. Holland narrates the details and arc of each story, and also offers insights into why—how the young leopard, probably motherless, sought maternal comfort with the calf, and how a baby oryx inspired the same mothering instinct in the lionness. Or, in the story of Kizzy, a nervous retired Greyhound, and Murphy, a red tabby, how cats and dogs actually understand each other’s body language. With Murphy’s friendship and support, Kizzy recovered from life as a racing dog and became a confident, loyal family pet.

These are the most amazing friendships between species, collected from around the world and documented in a selection of full-color candid photographs.

About the Author

Jennifer S. Holland is a contributing writer for National Geographic. She has also written for, among others, The Discovery Channel, NPR, and The New York Times, specializing in science and natural history.


Praise For…

“Jennifer S. Holland’s irresistible volume features heartwarming stories of interspecies love and adorable photographs that are heart-stopping in more than one sense.”
New York Times Book Review
“The feel-good book of the summer—maybe the year—may very well be Unlikely Friendships.”
USA Today
“Jennifer Holland documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways.”
Reader's Digest
“With aww-inducing photographs, the book highlights the most improbable animal connections.”
National Geographic

Product Details
ISBN: 9780761159131
ISBN-10: 0761159134
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Publication Date: June 21st, 2011
Pages: 224
Language: English
Series: Unlikely Friendships