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Interspecies love: The 30 most unlikely, adorable animal pairs

They say you can't choose your family. But these animals did.

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True love. (NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Foxhounds generally hunt foxes, not care for them. But sometimes maternal and paternal instincts are so strong they override pesky hindrances like those that determine who is predator and who is prey.

In her book, "One Big Happy Family," author Lisa Rogak profiles 47 unlikely animal pairs. Their stories are inspiring tales of an animal stepping in to take over the role of parent regardless of being, say, a chicken when the child in question is a very small dog.  

Here are 30 of the most unusual, most heartwarming pairs:

Reuters/Thomas Mukoya. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

1. The baboon and her bush baby

A 7-month-old yellow baboon started treating a 3-month-old bush baby as her own when he arrived at the Nairobi Animal Orphanage in Kenya. Today, they hardly leave each other's side, drinking from the same water bowl and just generally hugging to their hearts' content.

Richard Austin/Rex US. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

2. The boxer and his kid

Billy the boxer's paternal instinct kicked in almost as soon as he saw Lilly the goat, according to Elizabeth Tozer of the Pennywell Farm wildlife center at Buckfastleigh, in Devon, in the UK. “Lilly follows Billy around, which is really quite amusing to watch, and Billy sleeps with the goat and cleans her mouth after she feeds,” said Tozer.

Gallo Images/Rex/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

3. The border collie and his tiger cub

Solo the border collie's gotta herd something. In addition to tiger cubs, he cares for hyena pups at the Seaview Lion Park in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Courtesy of Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

4. The ginger tomcat and his lion cub

Arnie, the tomcat, took it upon himself to nuzzle and nurture Zara, the lion cub. Zara, the runt of the litter, struggled after she was born at a zoo in Cambridgeshire, UK. The zoo director, Kim Simmons, took Zara home to bottle feed her, and Kim's pet cat Arnie did the rest. 

Karine Aigner/Rex/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

5. The chicken, the goose and their three ducklings

A chicken named Henrietta and a goose named Gertie were unable to have younguns of their own. So, what did they do? When a mama duck inexplicably up and left her nest of hatching eggs, they stepped in to become surrogate parents. According to Rogak, "The two moms split parenting responsibilities: Henrietta handles care and feeding while Gertie naturally serves as swimming instructor and lifeguard."

Adam Harnett/Caters. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

6. The chicken and her Rottweiler pups

All hens like to stay warm. But Mabel likes to more than most, apparently. That's probably what prompted her to hop in the basket with a slew of Rottweiler puppies. Nettle, the pups' mom, was out on the farm in Shrewsbury, England, when Mabel first had her way. When Nettle returned, the crew needed some time to adjust to their new family dynamics.

John Drysdale. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

7. The chimpanzee and her puppies

Anna, the chimp, lives at a small wildlife park near Daventry, England, with a mix of wild and domesticated animals. Anna possesses extremely strong maternal instincts and is always interested whenever a resident dog has a litter. She watches intently as the mother nurses and afterwards cradles the little pup as if it's her own.

Media Mode Pty Ltd/Rex/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

8. The Dalmatian and her lamb

When a ewe rejected its newborn lamb on a farm in Barossa Valley, Australia, the strangest thing happened: Zoe, the Dalmatian, stepped in. Zoe and the lamb have the same pattern on their coats, as you can see. A natural pair, in a sense.

Richard Austin/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

9. The dog and his baby badger

When a newly orphaned baby badger, later named David, showed up at Secret World Wildlife Rescue animal sanctuary in Somerset, UK, Murray eagerly took on parenting duties. Murray, a German Shepherd Doberman mix, was 4 years old at the time.

John Drysdale. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

10. The dog and her bush baby

Bush babies are kind of high maintenance. They basically need to cling to a warm body 24 hours a day. So, zookeepers were grateful when Judy, a mutt, eagerly provided a perch for this infant bush baby, who had been rejected by his mum at a small zoo near Tamworth, Staffordshire, England.

Courtesy of Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

11. The Yellow Lab and his duckling

Many Labs are prized as skilled duck hunters, but not Fred. As soon as Fred saw Dennis, the duckling, who was in bad shape after his mother had been killed by a fox, Fred went right up to the little guy and started licking him clean. The two have been inseparable ever since. They cozy up to each other in the evenings, and Fred accompanies Dennis to the pond during the day. The pair lives at an animal sanctuary near Mountfitchet Castle in Stansted, Essex, England.

Helen Neafsey/ Hearst Connecticut Media Group. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

12. The foxhound and her fox kits

Mama, the foxhound, was called in from North Carolina when an African fennec fox named Fiona became pregnant in Connecticut. Fiona had previously tried to eat her litter, and zookeepers weren't keen to let her try again. Meanwhile, Mama was so-called because of her raging maternal instincts, which completely overshadowed the hunting purposes for which her breed is known. It took some finnagling, but eventually everyone relaxed into their new family dynamic. Hey, opposites attract.

Newspix/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

13. The dog and his joey

When Rex, a 10-year-old Pointer mix, saw a dead kangaroo by the side of the road in Victoria, Australia, he rescued the little joey that was still in its mother's pouch. Rex dropped the baby kangaroo at his owner's feet and then started licking and nuzzling him. The two bonded quickly and did a lot of jumping together in the few days before the baby roo, dubbed Rex Jr., was taken to live at Jirrahlinga Koala Wildlife Sanctuary.

Top Photo Group/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

14. The dog and his monkey baby

When a baby monkey lost both his parents at a zoo in Jiaozuo, in the Chinese province of Henan, the other monkeys in his enclosure started bullying him. The situation got so tense that zoo keepers introduced the baby to a dog named Sai Hu, thinking the dog could help protect the monkey. The idea worked. Within minutes of when the dog arrived, the baby monkey hopped on his back and has rarely left since.

Richard Austin/Rex USA. Promotional rights granted by Lisa Rogak.

15. The dog and her owlet

Kiera, a German shorthaired pointer, took to Cherub, a white-faced scops owl, as soon as she laid eyes on him at the home of her owner, Karen Andriunas, who founded Devon Bird of Prey Centre in Newton Abbot in the UK. The dog rarely lets Cherub out of her sight.