Jade Small
Jade Small
December 20, 2023 ·  6 min read

11 Times Wild Animals Actually Saved Humans

Some of the most viral posts on the internet are videos of humans going to extreme lengths to rescue animals in danger, even wild ones. From domestic birds with broken wings to wild animals in painful labor, humans are always coming to the rescue, and we love to see it!

However, stories of wild animals rescuing humans are another thing altogether! When wild animals and humans come together, it’s often the latter saving the former or someone is getting torn to pieces. Somehow, there have been reports of situations where humans were in desperate need of help and could count only the instincts of an animal to survive. Truly, these events have happened and the rescued humans have lived to tell some of the most mind-blowing tales. 

Disclaimer: While these stories have been confirmed to be true, they do not in any way imply that wild animals are safe, reliable, or friendly. It’s always best to avoid them and be cautious in the events of a run-in.

1. 12-year-old girl rescued from kidnappers by lions

In June 2005, a 12-year-old Ethiopian girl on her way to school was abducted by a group of seven men who tried to force her into marrying one of them. [1] They held her for over a week, beating and assaulting her until her unlikely rescuers got wind of their evil actions. Three powerful lions reportedly chased the men away and stood guard over the girl until the authorities came for her. Apparently, the lions knew enough about violent assault (which is how they survive) to isolate the victim from the predators. The girl was later rescued and taken home without being harmed by the wild beasts. It should be noted that there is some dispute as to if this actually happened or not. According to Truth or Fiction, some animal experts believe the lions may have only saved the girl because her crying may have sounded similar to the mewing cries of a lion cub.

2. Dolphins rescue surfer wounded by shark

Dolphins are just about the only wild animals whose rescue stories are common. In 2007, a surfer from California, Todd Endris was viciously attacked three times by a Great White shark. [2] The ferocious fish tore him up so badly that the skin on his back was peeled and his right leg was carved down to the bone. He was eventually rescued by a pod of dolphins that stood up to the shark, causing it to leave the surfer alone. The dolphins formed a protective circle around him and guided him to the shore.

3. Seal inadvertently saves a group of men from a shark attack

In 2011, a British tourist in South Africa was on the brink of death after a shark wounded both of his legs, causing him to lose a lot of blood. [3] Two other brave men dove into the water to help, but the shark was ready to pounce again. Luckily, a seal appeared from nowhere and began circling the three men, confusing the monster shark and causing him to swim away. The seal protected the men until they made it back safely to the shore.

4. Seal helps shipwrecked man float to shore

Stories are told of an Australian seal in 1969 that rescued Dudley Jones, the sole survivor of a boating accident that claimed the lives of two people. [4] Jones was on the verge of drowning when a seal came to his aid by pushing him to the shores on a reef.

5. Bear saves man from mountain lion attack

In 2012, 69-year-old Robert Biggs from California was caught in a blitz attack by a mountain lion while he’d been watching a mother bear and her cubs. [5] The elderly man tried to fight off the beast with a rock hammer, but he was eventually rescued by the powerful mother bear who caught the lion and flung it around by the neck. The two wild animals brawled for a bit and the mountain lion eventually ran off. Biggs survived the attack with a few abrasions while the mother bear calmly returned to her babies.

6. A giant sea turtle swam a woman to safety on its back

As published by the Philippine Navy, a 62-year-old woman named Candalaria Villanueva was rescued by a sea turtle after surviving a shipwreck. [6] The crew members aboard the ship that retrieved her confirmed the story, reporting that she was truly hanging onto the back of a giant sea turtle.

Villanueva herself recalled that she was struggling for something to hold when the turtle came along and she grabbed onto its shell. For two days, the animal swam with her on its back, never stopping to dive down into the depths for food. When she was finally rescued by the sailors, the turtle made sure she was okay by circling the ship three times before diving back down into the ocean.

7. Shipwrecked fisherman rescued by a pod of dolphins and two whales 

In 2008, a Filipino fisherman named Ronnie Dabal was out working in Puerto Princesa Bay when his boat got wrecked and he was thrown into the water. For 24 hours, he struggled with the turbulent waves atop a Styrofoam raft. His energy eventually gave out and just when he was about to go under, a pod of 30 dolphins and two whales came to his rescue. They banded together and pushed his raft to safety at the beach of Barangay [7].

8. Gorilla saves toddler from her evil friends

In 1996, a 3-year-old boy tumbled down 18 feet into a gorilla enclosure at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago. He sustained a severe head injury and was almost mauled by territorial gorillas in the enclosure. The boy was luckily protected by Binti Jua, a female Lowland Gorilla who stood up to her housemates and carried the child to safety. [8]

9. Drowning diver rescued by beluga whale

In 2009, an aspiring whale trainer, Yang Yun participated in a free-diving contest at China’s Polar Land Aquarium. [9] The water turned out to be so cold that Yun developed a cramp in her leg and was unable to continue swimming. She was rescued by a Beluga whale, Mila who grabbed her leg and pushed her to the surface. Yun survived the incident due to the whale’s quick thinking.

10. Sealion saves man who jumped off Golden Gate Bridge

In 2006, when 19-year-old Kevin Hines had been planning to jump off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, he hadn’t considered how the impact of the water would break his back or dislocate his spine. When he eventually made the 1280-meter plunge, he survived the instant injuries but was unable to swim to the shore. Hines was amazingly rescued by a sea lion who acted as a buoy, holding him up until the authorities could come to his rescue. [10],[11]

11. Elephant Saves Girl From Tsunami

Eight-year-old Amber Mason was separated from her family during the 2008 tsunami in Thailand. [12] She would have been washed away by the first wave if a kind-hearted elephant and Amber’s friend, Ningnong hadn’t acted quickly. Amber had been riding on Ningnong’s back when the tsunami struck. The beast was reported to have carried the poor girl on its back as it ran for higher ground. It stopped at a point and turned its powerful back to the wave, shielding the girl from the intense force of the water.


  1. Kidnapped girl ‘rescued’ by lions.” BBCJunbe 22, 2005.
  2. Dolphins save surfer from becoming shark’s bait.” Today. Mike Celizic. November 8, 2007.
  3. Rescuers of great white shark victim narrowly avoid being mauled too.” Standard. Dan Newling. September 29, 2011.
  4. Google News Archives. Toledo Blade. April 29th, 1969.
  5. Bear Saves Robert Biggs From Mountain Lion Attack In California.” The Huffington Post. Andy Campbell. December 6, 2017. 
  6. Google News Arvhives. Montreal Gazette. June 25, 1974 
  7. “Philippines: Fisherman saved by dolphins and whales” Global Voices. December 22, 2008.
  8. Gorilla Carries 3-Year-Old Boy to Safety After He Fell Into Enclosure in 1996 Incident.” ABC News. Julia Jacobo. May 30, 2016
  9. Beluga Whale Saves Drowning Diver.” National Geographic. Mary Anne Potts. August 3, 2009.
  10. Lethal Beauty / A Survivor’s Story: A jumper advocates for a barrier and makes a new life. The third in a seven-part series on the Golden Gate Bridge barrier debate.” SF Gate. Mike Weiss. November 1, 2005.
  11. “Sea lion saves Golden Gate Bridge suicide jumper, survivor says $210M net in crucial” KTVU Fox 2 News. July 12, 2019.
  12. Elephant dash saved tsunami girl.” BBC News. January 11, 2005.