In 2002, the quiet village of Antoli in Vadodara, Gujarat, India, had a nightly visitor, a leopard. After they observed the wild animal for some time, it became obvious that the creature wasn't looking to cause harm.
Instead, she was looking for someone, an unlikely friend who seemingly brought her comfort during the night as the villagers watched on in amazement.
An Indian Village Was Experiencing Leopard Sightings
In 2002, the town of Antoli in Vadodara, Gujarat, was experiencing an uptick in leopard sightings... a wild animal no one in the village particularly wanted to encounter while walking through town.
So, the forest rangers decided to take drastic measures to ensure the safety of the public, relocating the leopards to a nearby forest.
The Relocation Was Meant To Give People Peace Of Mind
The relocation gave the townspeople some peace of mind. That is until one particular leopard began making nightly trips back into the village. The wild animal wasn't there to cause anyone harm, though.
She didn't even seem to want to take any food lying around. All the leopard seemed to want was a cow.
One Leopard Kept Visiting A Family's Farm
It all started when one family noticed a leopard walking around their yard at night. Of course, they were scared. The family owned two bulls and a cow; they didn't want their animals to get tangled up with a wild leopard.
To their astonishment, though something else happened entirely -- something amazing.
It Was As If The Two Animals Knew One Another
It turned out the leopard wanted nothing to do with the two bulls on the property. It went straight for the cow, almost as if she knew the farm animal.
As the leopard approached, the family watched as the cow showed no signs of terror. The cow actually walked forward to meet the leopard!
There Was No Aggression On Either Side
Amazed, the family watched on. It looked as though the two animals knew one another, two unlikely friends who seemed completely at ease in the presence of one another.
The cow even went as far as licking the leopard's head! There were zero signs of aggression on either animal's end.
No One Knows What Happened To The Leopard's Mother
While some people thought the leopard was left at childbirth or its mother passed away, sources have proven the claims false. It seemed as though the leopard just enjoyed the company of the cow.
The wild animal would show up at the house every night, going to see its friend for a few hours.
The Leopard Came Every Night For A Few Months
According to the family, the leopard would appear in their yard from around 9:30 pm until 11 pm, a nightly ritual that continued from October 8, 2002, until October 22, 2002.
The leopard appeared again after some time away, meeting her cow friend from November 4, 2002, until November 29, 2002.
All Of A Sudden, She Stopped Visiting
While it looked as though the leopard had a pretty set schedule for meeting up with her friend, it stopped. The family of the cow is unsure where the leopard went after November 29, since he never returned until later in December.
Even so, townspeople said they saw the large cat around.
The Would Cuddle, Clean One Another, And Walk Around
When the leopard visited the cow, the two would hang out like age-old friends. They would walk around together, lick each other's heads, and even cuddle on the ground with one another.
It was quite a sight to behold since the animals seemed to really care for each other.
March 2003 Was The Last Time She Visited
Sadly, the last time the leopard came around to see her friend was the first week of March in 2003. After that, the family never saw the leopard on their property again.
They're not sure where the wild animal ran off to, but they are happy their cow had a friend.
Many People Question Why They Were Friends
Since the story of the cow and leopard came about in a viral story, many people speculated as to why the wild animal was so friendly with a farm animal.
Some thought the leopard was left as a cub, and the cow offered milk and safety for her.
Everything's Been Blown Out Of Proportion
These stories have been exaggerated over the years, with sources proving the leopard's supposed abandonment being false. While no one really knows how the leopard first came into contact with the cow, their friendship was put on nightly display for the family.
The leopard never showed any aggression toward the cow.
The Times Of India Got the Inside Scoop
According to the Times of India, "The big cat slowly rolls over and raises one paw and puts it gently on the cow's head, and makes purring sounds."
"The cow lets out a soft 'moo’ in response and licks the leopard. The leopard, obviously in a playful mood, sits there waiting to be cuddled."
Small Crowds Began To Gather
The unlikely friendship between the two animals might have started with the family, but it soon attracted the attention of some of the other villagers. Eventually, small crowds waited around, hoping to see the leopard interact with the cow.
They even began gathering on nearby rooftops, hoping for a small glimpse!
The Crowds Spooked The Leopard
The leopard went to see the cow consecutively for many nights. It wasn't until the crowds began to form that the wild animal began to get a bit weary of coming around.
In fact, it might have been the growing presence of the townsfolk that ultimately had the leopard leave for good.
Even A Wildlife Warden Wasn't Sure What Happened
According to Rohit Vyas, an honorary wildlife warden of Vadodara and someone who witnessed the interaction between the leopard and cow, "We have been keeping watch, but unfortunately, the frequency of the leopard's visits has decreased."
Vyas was not sure the reason behind the leopard's departure, only that it stopped coming around.
"...Animal Behavior Can Get Modified."
While many people have speculated over how the leopard and cow knew each other and why they were friends, no one knows for sure. During an interview with the Times of India, conservationist H.S. Singh said, "Sometimes animal behavior can get modified."
Singh further explained this reasoning had to do with the area the leopard lived.
It Might Have To Do With The Rural Environment
H.S. Singh went on, telling the Times of India, "In this case, probably because the leopard which has passed the sub-adult stage, lives in a rural area and not strictly a wild environment."
Due to the rural area the leopard lived in, she might have been used to seeing farm animals around and grew up not intending to hurt them.
Her Mother Was Relocated
As it turns out, people got down to the truth of what happened to the leopard's mother. It seems as though she was relocated to the nearby forest along with other leopards in the area and was separated from her young cub.
Even so, it does not explain the relationship between the sub-adult female and cow.
A Beautiful Friendship
While no one is likely ever to know how the leopard and cow became friends, the world is pretty pleased that they were lucky enough to witness the remarkable companionship between two unlikely creatures.
And getting footage of then relationship is all in thanks to the family's curious six-year-old, who bore witness to the two animals' initial interaction.
An Unusual Discovery
Africa is known for its incredible safari life, so spotting a wild animal isn't uncommon in many parts of the continent. While it would terrify some to occupy the same space as a giant mammal, it's a fascinating experience that captivates those who have a taste for adventure.
A South African farmer is one of those individuals who would be used to spotting elephants, rhinos, and other large creatures roaming around. Still, he knew something was wrong when he saw a particular creature out in the distance.
It Was A Baby Giraffe
Upon closer inspection, it became clear to the farmer that this was a baby giraffe. Not only was the little calf all on its own, but it also appeared to be no more than a few days old.
Giraffes are massive creatures from the moment they are born. They come into the world at a staggering six-feet-tall and weigh about 150 pounds, according to PBS. This animal was not one to mess around with, but it did appear to need some help.
Where Were Its Parents?
As large as a baby giraffe is, fully grown ones are much bigger. An adult giraffe can grow up to 14 feet tall for females and 18 feet for males, and weigh up to 3,000 pounds!
Like many mammals, the calves rely on fully-grown giraffes for protection. According to GiraffeWorlds, a newborn giraffe can stand just 20 minutes after being born. Still, it needs to stick close to its mother to remain protected from predators.
A Safe Haven
Since the newborn was clearly without its family, the farmer who spotted it knew he had to find a safe haven for the calf. The closest one was not a giraffe sanctuary, but rather a rhino rehabilitation center.
Though it wasn't their specialty, The Rhino Orphanage agreed to care for the baby giraffe. The caretakers couldn't turn down a helpless creature. They hoped that they could at least prepare the giraffe for life on its own and return it to the wild.
In Good Hands
The team had a deep love and appreciation for wildlife, and wanted to save any animal they possibly could. They could tell right away that there was something off about the newborn.
Given that the mother had left her offspring so helpless, it was possible that she knew something was wrong. It was also probable that she had no means to help the creature. Fortunately, there was a team of humans who would do all they could to help the baby giraffe.
A Rough Start
The sweet baby giraffe was in critical condition when it arrived. He spent the first 18 hours in a comatose state. The team prepared for the worst while fighting for the calf's life. Dr. Pierre Bester, the veterinarian at The Rhino Orphanage, gave the baby giraffe an IV to provide immediate hydration and nutrients.
It wasn't just separation from his mother that was causing these health concerns. It was becoming more apparent that an underlying health condition was prohibiting the baby giraffe from functioning.
The Report Is In
The vet reported that the baby giraffe, who they had named Jazz, had hyphema and brain hemorrhaging. He also couldn't regulate the blood pressure in his brain, which is especially vital for an animal with such a long neck.
Why Jazz was suffering from these things was not clear, but it could have been a genetic defect. The team had a strong feeling that this was why his mother left him, since it would have been her instinct to do so.
His New Sidekick
There was one animal who refused to leave Jazz's side, and that was a dog named Hunter. The Belgian Malinois was a member of The Rhino Orphanage team who loved keeping the rhinos company.
Hunter was not your average dog, as he seemed to want nothing more than to provide company to any suffering animals. He gently watched over Jazz from the moment the calf was taken in. Hunter did not leave Jazz's side, even as the baby struggled to regain consciousness.
Though Jazz's condition was hard to take, Hunter appeared hopeful. The dog gradually crept closer to the sleeping giraffe, doing all he could to comfort the poor creature.
Jazz was just a newborn and had yet to experience much of life. Hunter and the crew showed the calf more love than it had ever felt in his short time on Earth. Though things looked bleak at first, it wouldn't be long before all of that support reaped positive results.
Feeling The Love
Hunter was very skilled at comforting Jazz without smothering the young animal. Jazz clearly appreciated Hunter's patience, because before long he was shifting to get closer to the dog.
Jazz was looking more and more at peace each day with Hunter by his side. The dog selflessly offered his company, and now the baby giraffe was showing that he appreciated the favor. Though the animals were different species, they had managed to become friends.
Things Started Looking Up
Before long, Jazz was looking like any normal baby giraffe. He was sitting tall at his best friend's side. Meanwhile, Hunter looked happier than ever. With any luck, he'd be running and playing with his new friend in no time.
Still, Jazz would need lots of rest. His condition wasn't going to just go away, but the team had been doing everything they could. The calf was at least at a point where he could function.
The Family He Never Had
The team caught one of the most precious moments between Jazz and Hunter on camera. The two were snuggling one another, Jazz's face resting on Hunter's shoulder and Hunter's face burrowed into Jazz's neck.
The baby giraffe clearly needed some love and affection, and Hunter was quick to offer that to him. The dog had experience consoling animals in need before, but this was something special. Unlike the rhinos, Jazz was the only one of his kind around.
In This Together
Hunter seemed to know that Jazz needed special company since there weren't any other giraffes around. Being a baby with a life-threatening illness and no family around, Jazz needed Hunter more than he possibly could have known.
Now that the two had become close enough to start having snuggle sessions, they were practically inseparable. Hunter dedicated his days to being with Jazz, and Jazz perked up despite his unfortunate circumstances, over which he had no control.
Getting Back On His Feet
It's normal to see a little baby human struggling to walk for quite some time after birth. As we mentioned earlier, giraffes are quite different in terms of their mobility. They practically come out of the womb walking, so having Jazz lying down all the time was not normal.
Though he needed to regain his strength, it came time to give standing a try. It took the support of the team to get Jazz on all fours again.
Once Jazz was back on his feet, it was as though he realized what he'd been missing. The team hung plants from a string so that Jazz could eat the way he would if he were out in nature.
Through all of his progress, Hunter didn't leave his side. The dog wasn't going to scurry away just because Jazz was standing again. He lounged on Jazz's bed and watched his friend's progress with gentle pride.
Now that Jazz was off the IV, he could transition to a normal diet for giraffes. Aside from plants, the team fed Jass milk through a bottle. This is the same technique that they use for the rhinos.
Feeding the baby giraffe was a little different than feeding a baby rhino, specifically because of Jazz's height. Furthermore, his height would double by the time he reached a year old, which is about the time he'd no longer need milk.
Too much time indoors isn't good for anyone, but especially not for a wild animal. It was time at last for Jazz to get back outside. Naturally, his best friend Hunter would be right by his side.
The Rhino Orphanage had plenty of roaming space for the rhinos, so Jazz would be able to wander free while still remaining safe. Hunter and his young friend were finally able to have a lighthearted moment of play.
In His Natural Element
Finally back where he belonged, Jazz appeared to be wearing a smile while he was out in the warm sun. The baby giraffe could stretch its neck up to actual trees, as opposed to the makeshift plant holders inside.
Absorbing the sunshine and running around with his friend lifted Jazz's spirits even more. Though he had received plenty of love and attention inside, he was finally able to experience what life was like as a normal, healthy giraffe.
Surrounded By Love
Though Jazz was able to catch a glimpse of a normal life, he still had a condition that would demand more rest. Fully-grown giraffes have hearts that measure two feet long and weigh 25 pounds, according to the San Diego Zoo.
Their hearts normally pump 16 gallons a minute, but Jazz's condition was significantly detrimental as it impacted his circulation. When it was time to go back in and rest, Jazz had his best friend Hunter by his side, along with some human friends.
Thank You Kisses
Jazz was so appreciative to Hunter that he became quite affectionate. Here he is giving the sweet dog kisses with his long face. Meanwhile, Hunter has his adorable paw on Jazz's leg.
Their sweet story goes to show that love has no bounds. Though Jazz may not have gotten to have the normal life of a baby giraffe, he at least got to experience a caring family who stuck by his side no matter what.