The Odd Couples

Emily G.W. Chau

Meet five sets of very unlikely best friends. If these guys can get over their differences, maybe we humans can, too!

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Unlikely Friendships

Unlikely Friendships

Some animals are born enemies, it's true. But you can also find surprising interspecies friendships -- a dog who's best buds with a cat; a cat who likes to cuddle with her BFF, a pet rat. "Animal behavior isn't just about instinct," says John C. Wright, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Mercer University, in Macon, Georgia. If they're taught from an early age to play nice with other creatures, animals may be able to overcome their natural urge to hunt -- or flee. That's why you generally see animal odd couples among domestic creatures. Still, there are mysterious bonds: In 1992 some wild polar bears in Canada spent over a week roughhousing playfully with a pack of Canadian Eskimo dogs while renowned nature photographer Norbert Rosing, who happened to be on hand, took photographs. This now-famous bear-dog encounter shows that the instinct for play is so powerful it can sometimes override a creature's carnivorous nature, according to Stuart Brown, M.D., founder of the National Institute for Play and an expert in human and animal behavior. We rounded up a couple of our favorite dynamic duos to prove that opposites do attract, even in the animal kingdom.

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