There are plenty of stories out there about people’s pets saving their lives, but that kind of makes sense. We have relationships with our pets, after all, and one would assume that they care about our well-being similarly to how we do about theirs (or maybe that’s just anthropomorphizing?). Not to mention that animals like dogs have co-evolved with humans over thousands of years – long enough that our two species’ survival have intertwined.
That is not the case with wild animals. Let’s face it, they probably have more reasons to let us die than save our lives. Even so, they have been known to purposefully step in to save the day on occasion (I’m sure they have their reasons!).
Note: some of these are accidental heroes, but to the people alive because of happenstance, they are heroes all the same.
#8. A whale saves a diver from a shark attack.
In 2017, Nan Hauser was swimming off the Cook Islands when a humpback whale appeared and bumped into her, attempting to carry her on its head, belly, and back, and even to tuck her under its pectoral fin.
Hauser is a marine biologist and couldn’t understand the whale’s behavior – at least not until she returned to the surface and learned that a 15ft tiger shark had been swimming with them, as well. Researchers believe that humpback whales are protective of other animals because they have a strong natural instinct to protect their own from predators.
#7. Lions saved this young kidnapping victim.
In 2005, a 12-year-old Ethiopian girl was kidnapped. Her 4 abductors abandoned her after they were approached by 3 lions that remained around her until police arrived, after which they quietly left.
Though some wildlife experts guessed the lions didn’t kill the child because her weeping sounded like the cry of a lion cub, other game hunters believe they would have eaten her had the police not arrived when they did.
#6. A man was saved by a bear – from a mountain lion attack.
Robert Biggs was hiking in California when he was attacked by a mountain lion. Luckily, he had been watching a bear and her cub and the mama bear attacked the mountain lion, saving the man in the process of protecting her cub.
#5. A sea lion saved this man from drowning.
In 2000, Kevin Hines was set to give in to his bipolar depression. He had decided to drown himself by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, but he miraculously survived the jump, and once in the water, a sea lion kept his head above water, saving his life until the Coast Guard could arrive.
#4. Dolphins saved a fisherman.
In 2002, Aussie Grant Dickson’s fishing boat sank. Injured and bleeding, it wasn’t long before sharks had discovered him and began circling closer and closer. Then dolphins arrived and chased the sharks away – but it was still 40 hours before a passing ship rescued him, and Dickson was the only survivor of the incident.
#3. Dolphins saved some lifeguards from a shark attack.
On October 20, 2004, 4 young lifeguards were swimming at Ocean Beach in New Zealand when they were surrounded by 7 bottlenose dolphins. They circled the group of humans, keeping them tightly together.
Under water, a great white shark circled. The dolphins remained with the lifeguards for 40 minutes, until the shark left.
Though that type of incident isn’t a common occurrence, Dr. Rochelle Constantine at Auckland University School of Biological Sciences says that dolphins have been observed protecting other animals from sharks in the past.
#2. Dick Van Dyke was saved by porpoises.
Dick Van Dyke was answering a question about surfing on a talk show when he revealed that he no longer surfed because he had once almost died doing so. He said he fell asleep on his surfboard one day and woke to find himself far from land – and encircled by fins. They weren’t sharks, though, but porpoises, and they pushed him until he was near enough to return to shore on his own.
#1. This deer (unwittingly) saved a woman from attack.
In 2012, an Ohio woman was leaving a party on foot when a man grabbed her, hit her, and tried grabbing her purse before dragging her into a field. The sounds of their struggle woke a deer sleeping nearby and when it leapt and fled the attacker, startled, did the same.
Don’t you just love animals? Even humans, some days. Heh.