- For their services, we salute these animals.
Wherever you go in the world, you’ll find people hailed at heroes for the selfless, valiant deeds they’ve done. But animals, too, can rise up to heroics on the occasion.
It’s not always critters that have been trained to do so, either. Even wild animals sometimes help people in fantastic ways, for reasons we can’t always quite understand.
Here is a collection of some of the most heroic animals throughout history. Although the list is numbered, it’s not a ranking — we put the numbers there simply for clarity.
All of these animals are equally amazing.
1) Magawa, the Mine-Clearing Rat
It’s hard to say how many lives Magawa, an African giant pouched rat, has saved. That’s because through his work, he prevented harm from ever coming to innocent people.
Cambodia is a country with a troubled history, and as a result its landscape is still littered with an unknown number of land mines. It was Magawa’s job to find the mines before some unfortunate soul steps on them.
Throughout his illustrious career, Magawa discovered 71 mines and 38 pieces of other active explosives. In total, the rat secured 35 acres, or 26 football fields’ worth of land. Thanks to his services, many Cambodians get to keep their limbs and lives.
2) The Child-Saving Pride of Lions
In 2005, seven men beat and abducted a 12-year-old girl in Ethiopia, intending to force her into marriage. But the kidnappers weren’t prepared for the girl’s saviors.
According to reports, three lions charged and chased away the girl’s captors. The big cats then guarded the girl for half a day in case the kidnappers came back.
When the police arrived and the lions determined that they had no ill intentions, the pride returned back to the wilds. The girl, who had at that point been missing for a week, got safely back to her family.
Experts believe that the girl’s cries may have sounded similar to the whimpers of a troubled lion cub. But whatever the reason for their help, the lions definitely saved the girl from a cruel fate.
3) New Zealand’s Shark-Deterring Dolphins
We all know dolphins are very intelligent animals. They can also be complete jerks who torment and kill other animals just to entertain themselves.
But in this case, the dolphins did no harm. In fact, they may have saved a human life.
UK-born Rob Howes, his daughter and two of her friends were swimming in New Zealand in 2004, when they suddenly noticed a pack of dolphins circling them. They started approaching the swimmers, herding them together while swimming around them.
Howes, afraid the dolphins could be aggressive, tried to get away from the group. When two larger dolphins stopped him, he noticed the real danger — a great white shark swimming just a few feet away from him.
The dolphins stayed in place for about 40 minutes, slapping their tails on the water to keep the shark away the swimmers together. When the shark finally got bored and headed back to the ocean, they allowed Howes and the children to get back ashore.
According to experts, great whites are dolphins’ natural enemies. They think the dolphins simply wanted to protect a bunch of clumsy hairless apes that had gotten into the water.
4) LuLu, the Life-Saving Pig
Jo Ann Altsman was vacationing in Pennsylvania in 1998 with her pet — a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig called LuLu. Their vacation took a turn for the worst when Altsman suddenly had a heart attack.
As Altsman collapsed onto her mobile home’s floor, LuLu realized something wasn’t right. She cried at Altsman for a while, but when she was unable to get up, the pig took matters to her own trotters.
LuLu used all 150 pounds of her pigly mass to ram and break down the mobile home’s door. She then ran to the nearby road and began laying down in front of approaching cars to get them to stop.
Most drivers, though, simply drove around the pig and went on their way. After each failed attempt, LuLu ran back to the mobile home to check up on Altsman.
Finally, a motorcyclist stopped and followed LuLu to tell her owner that pig was in distress. But when he found Altsman in even greater distress, he called 911.
Paramedics rushed to the mobile home and took Altsman to a hospital. She survived, and later told the media that for saving her life, LuLu was rewarded with a jelly donut.
5) Cher Ami, the Pigeon War Hero
World War I was a terrible event in every single way. At the dawn of modern military technology, the early radios weren’t exactly reliable, and troops often had to resort to messenger pigeons.
On October 3, 1918, American Major Charles White Whittlesey and his 550 troops were caught behind German lines. To make matters worse, allied forces were shelling the hill they occupied with artillery.
When only 194 of his men were left alive and his human messengers consistently dying to enemy fire, Whittlesey began sending out messenger pigeons. The first two birds got shot, and finally Whittlesey sent out Cher Ami.
This pigeon, too, attracted German fire. He took a bullet to the breast, lost an eye, and had one his legs blown off.
But Cher Ami persisted and successfully flew 25 miles to deliver his message, saving Whittlesey and his remaining men. Not only that, the pigeon recovered from his wounds, thanks to Army medics.
For his contributions to the allied war effort, Cher Ami received the Croix de Guerre with bronze palm leaf — the second highest French honor in the war. He went on to live in New Jersey, until he finally succumbed to his wounds in June 1919.