Falling in love is one of the great joys in life. Once thought to be an emotion unique to humans, there is now solid evidence to suggest that animals experience love as well as other complex emotions.1 To celebrate Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share some of our favourite animal romances!
Leopards Mike and Tulani
Leopards Mike and Tulani met at our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa and found love against all odds! Before her rescue, Tulani was born in captivity and hand-raised at a safari park. Mike on the other hand, was originally born in the wild and was captured in a live trap after being labeled a 'problem animal.' Rather than being put to death, we were able to bring Mike to LIONSROCK where he could live out the rest of his life in peace and safety. Soon, the two leopards were socialised together, and it was love at first sight!
Tulani is very confident around people, and Mike is the exact opposite, having never been around people in the wild. One might think that their differences would cause the leopards to be incompatible, but the two have been inseparable ever since they met, and they can often be spotted lovingly grooming one another.
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Bears Amelia and Meimo
Brown bears Amelia and Meimo are both former 'restaurant bears' who were rescued together from Albania in January of 2019. The restaurant owner was using them to attract visitors via separate concrete cages, but luckily, they realized these living conditions were not appropriate for the bears and were happy to let FOUR PAWS bring the duo to Arosa Bear Sanctuary. These lifelong partners are now free to enjoy their lives in species-appropriate surroundings in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland.
While their personalities are quite different, Amelia and Meimo are as close as can be. Amelia is very bright and curious, and she has been quick to explore her enclosure ever since arriving at the sanctuary. Meimo is a bit more reserved, and he tends to take a lot of naps during the day, preferring to explore in the nighttime. The two bears are so close that they even choose to hibernate together! This year, Meimo did the hard work of padding the den with sawdust and straw, but when Amelia joined him, Meimo didn't seem to mind at all. You may even catch a glimpse of the happy couple on our webcams as they hibernate this winter. Knowing they were unable to cuddle up in the warmth and hibernate together in their former living conditions makes moments like this especially heart-warming.
Lionesses Kara and Lea
Lionesses Kara and Lea were both about a year old when they arrived at LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in 2010. Because of their young age, arrangements were made to rescue the two lionesses at the same time and to immediately introduce them together. Kara was rescued after the closure of Tecuci Zoo in Romania, and Lea was rescued from private ownership in Bulgaria. Kara and Lea have shown a strong bond with each other ever since they arrived at the sanctuary. Kara is a bit more timid than Lea, who is always near to lend her support. The duo can often be seen playing with one another or resting in the sun together just enjoying each other’s company.
Foxes Zoé and Frodo
Foxes Zoé and Frodo had a one-of-a-kind love story. Zoé was rescued from a breeding farm and arrived at our TIERART Wild Animal Sanctuary in 2011. During the first years at the sanctuary, Zoé lived on her own and enjoyed the quiet life. Pastel foxes are very rare, so finding a mate for her seemed unlikely; however, in 2016, male fox Frodo came to the sanctuary, and here their love story began! The foxes were so fond of each other that no fence could stop them from moving in together. On Frodo’s very first night at TIERART, they both dug a tunnel to get to one another, and since that time, the pair was inseparable.
This special couple lived peacefully together for seven happy years. The most difficult part of any relationship is having to say goodbye, and sadly, Zoé passed away in May of 2022. While we are sure that Frodo misses her dearly, our caretakers make sure that he is well taken care of and gets all the attention he needs. The love story of Zoé and Frodo is one that will always be remembered at FOUR PAWS.