With the killing of gorilla Harambe at Cincinnati Zoo to rescue a 3-year-old child now being in the spotlight, we look at six occasions where wild animals have saved humans in dangerous and life-threatening situations.
1. Jambo the Gorilla
Examples where wild animals saved humans can be found all over the world. Back in 1986, 5-year-old Levan Merritt managed to slip into the gorilla pen at Jersey Zoo. Knocked unconscious, he lay in a dry ditch at the edge of the enclosure. A large male gorilla called Jambo approached and gently stroked the boy until he regained consciousness, and shielded him from the other gorillas. When Levan regained consciousness, Jambo and the other gorillas retreated. Although a young male – maybe startled by Levan’s cries – approached in agitation, zoo keepers were able to enter the enclosure and save the child.
2. Mila the Beluga Whale
In China, a woman called Yang Yun was competing in a free-diving competition, where divers enter a pool without breathing equipment. Also in the tank were beluga whales and the water was chilled to Arctic temperatures. Yang Yun was suddenly unable to move her lags, cramped by the extreme cold, and she was sinking to the bottom and choking. Mila the whale gently took hold of her leg and propelled her safely to the surface, saving her life.
3. A Californian Sealion
In 2000 Kevin Hines, who now talks on mental-health issues, tried to commit suicide by jumping off Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Although he was badly injured in the fall, he did not die, but felt something underneath him, and at first feared it was a shark. After he was rescued, witnesses on the shore revealed that it was actually a sealion that had been bumping him upwards repeatedly, so keeping his head above the water and preventing him drowning in the chilly water.
4. Lions in Ethiopia
A dramatic rescue happened in Ethiopia back in 2005 – and the saviours were a group of wild lions. A number of men were absconding with a 12-year-old girl they had kidnapped, and the police were in hot pursuit. Out of nowhere came a group of lions, who chased off the men and stayed with the girl until the police arrived to take her to safety, at which point the lions retreated.
5. Dolphins in California
Surfer Todd Endris had a close shave with death in California. He was attacked in the water by a great white shark which shredded the skin on his back and broke and badly injured his leg. Endris managed to free himself from the shark and he was immediately surrounded by a group of dolphins, who circled him until he could get back on his surfboard and safely make it to shore.
6. Binti Jua the Gorilla
Finally, it was another gorilla to the rescue when a 3-year-old boy fell down 24 feet into her enclosure. Binti Jua, who had her own baby clinging to her back, protected the unconscious child ,picking him up gently and, cradling him in her arms, taking him to a place where her keepers could safely gain access to rescue the child.