Traveling is an excellent way of expanding our horizons and knowledge base. When we travel, we get to meet new people with diverse cultures, ideas, and thoughts. There, ideas are exchanged, making us think differently and view things from a different perspective. Sometimes, we also get the opportunity to see things we would otherwise not see if we had sat back in the comfort of our homes. Ask Anne Young!
A once-in-a-lifetime experience
When Anne Young decided to vacation in Bali, Indonesia, she never imagined she would get to experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment. All she wanted was to capture some great images of the park’s animals and generally have a great time. But time and chance have a way of exceeding our expectations and leaving us gaping in amazement. 
That was certainly the case for the amateur wildlife photographer when she captured stunning images of a monkey cradling its adopted kitten. The monkey who had taken in the kitten as his own held it with so much love and care. Interestingly, the other monkeys in the park didn’t seem to mind. What’s more? The cat was completely at ease, meowing happily as it went about its business.
Is there a reason behind this phenomenon?
While interspecies adoption is relatively uncommon, there’s been a few of them. We’ve read about a cat who adopted a baby rabbit after it lost its mother, a small sheep that adopted a 440-pound elephant after his mother abandoned it as a baby. Then there’s the story of a tigress who has been raising piglets since she was only two years old. Ironically, she was also nursed by a pig until she was four months old. While stories like this warm our hearts, they also spur us into asking specific questions. Seeing that animals do not have the cultural influences that humans do, what encourages them to take on other species as their own?
So far, science can’t give a definite reason behind the adoption among species. However, some articles have provided insight into the possible reasons why animals adopt other species. 
One of the possible factors responsible for this phenomenon may be an animal’s instinctual ability to take care of young ones and help them survive. One factor peculiar to most of these interspecies adoptions is the age of the adopted animals. Most times, they are young and have lost their mothers.
“Instinctively, animals take care of the young to help them survive and therefore pass on the family DNA. So I think there’s some hard wiring in there that leads them to offer care to another animal in need. If it isn’t a relative, there may be some wires crossed, but I think the behavior comes from the same place,” said Holland, a National Geographic contributing writer. 
But for Jill Goldman, an applied animal behaviorist based in southern California, the motivation may be the desire for social companionship as well as other benefits.
“In order for the relationship to be sustained, I believe both parties will need to benefit in some way,” said Goldman, who has studied wolf behavior. “How we define benefit is another matter. Social companionship in some cases may actually be enough of a benefit so long as it is not outweighed by competition [or] threat,” Goldman explained.
- “The monkey and the kitten“. The Guardian. 2010
- “Why do animals adopt?” BBC. 2020.
- “Why Animals “Adopt” Others, Including Different Species”. National Geographic. 2013.