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Wild friendships in the animal kingdom


Image courtesy of Pixabay

There’s nothing like having a BFF — that person who you can have fun with and talk to and always count on. But making new friends can be pretty awesome, too. July 30 is the International Day of Friendship. Maybe you and your friends can keep an eye out for a new pal to get to know. And while we’re talking friends, don’t think humans are the only ones who know a thing or two about friendship. Check out these friendly creatures in the animal kingdom who help each other out.

Egrets and buffalo

Egrets and buffalo
An egret sits on top of the buffalo's back as it walks through a field. EcoSnap/123RF Stock Photo

A bird and buffalo can be pals? It sounds far-fetched, but it’s true. The egret hangs around grazing buffalo. It snatches up grasshoppers that leap out of the way as the buffalo wanders through the tall grass. But here’s where it gets really interesting. The egret is often seen sitting atop the buffalo’s back. It’s not just finding an easier way to travel. The bird plucks insects from the cattle’s body. While it snatches up the bugs for dinner, it’s also helping out its buffalo pal by getting rid of parasites that can cause disease.

Egyptian plovers and crocodiles

Egyptian plover and crocodile
An Egyptian plover bird stands inside the mouth of crocodile to clean its teeth. Steve Stanton/YouTube

You’d think it’d be a good idea to stay away from crocodile teeth. But the plover is known to get chummy with a croc and its sharp chompers. The crocodile opens its jaws and lets the Egyptian plover fly inside. Once there, the bird picks away at the bits of meat stuck in the croc’s teeth. The fierce predator lets the bird do its handiwork without going on the attack. Why? It seems that while the plover nabs a tasty meal, it’s helping to clean the croc’s teeth, preventing infection.

Want to see more animal friends? Check out 5 Unlikely Animals Friends

Olive baboons and elephants

Olive baboons and elephants
Olive bamboons follow a lonely elephant. Photo by MudflapDC licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

You can find this pair of pals in the grasslands of Africa. This unusual duo helps each other out like any good friends would. The elephant uses its tusks to dig a waterhole in the sand, and it lets the olive baboon lap up a drink from this “well” when it gets thirsty. In return, the baboon warns the elephant when danger is near. It climbs up to the treetops and screeches so its pal knows that it’s time to move on.

Clownfish and sea anemones

Clownfish and sea anemones
A clownfish hides in a sea anemone. Image courtesy of Pixabay

If you’re familiar with a little fish named Nemo, you probably know a bit about the friendship between clownfish and the sea anemone. The sea anemone is a predator that attaches itself to rocks and coral. It uses its poisonous tentacles to sting fish that get too close. Then it gobbles them up by grasping the fish with its tentacles. As Nemo-lovers know, clownfish are immune to the anemone’s sting thanks to a special mucus that protects its skin. That’s why the clownfish can live inside the sea anemone’s tentacles. And the little fish helps out its home sweet home. The clownfish cleans the anemone and even chases away predators that try to attack it.

Cleaner shrimp and fish

Cleaner shrimp and fish
Two cleaner shrimp hang out on coral. Image courtesy of Pixabay

Cleaner shrimp really know how to make friends. These crustaceans set up “cleaning stations” around coral reefs. Up to 25 shrimp gather at a station. Then all kinds of fish swim by and allow the shrimp to pick parasites off their bodies. The fish get clean and the shrimp get a free meal from their visiting pals.