There isn't much that's more adorable than kittens and puppies frolicking together, as Animal Planet's charming series "Too Cute!" has shown since it debuted in 2011. But there is one thing even cuter, and that's interspecies animal best friends.
"We found in making 'Too Cute!' there were so many unusual animal pairings, not just puppies, not just kittens," executive producer David Stefanou told TODAY. "There's often other animals in the house, and it's fascinating to see how those relationships develop, and how they're different from relationships within a litter of the same breed."
And thus came the idea for Saturday's special episodes of "Too Cute! Animal Best Friends," which will feature only unusual animal pairings, including a kangaroo and a deer, a baby baboon and golden retriever, and more.
Stefanou said that they contacted a lot of people who had posted their videos to YouTube, and also put out a traditional casting notice to find the right pairings for the show.
"The bar for casting was that these animals really did have to be friends," Stefanou explained. "They couldn't just be animals who co-habitate in the same house. They had to have a real relationship."
One of those pairings is a 3-year-old German shepherd named Kayden and 4-month-old Siberian bear cub named Talullah, who live at the Bailiwick Ranch in Catskill, NY. When the little orphan bear first arrived at the sanctuary, her eyes were barely open, she couldn't walk and had to be bottle fed.
A clip from the "Too Cute!" special that Animal Planet is sharing exclusively with TODAY shows the two buddies frolicking happily around the ranch.
But they're more than just friends.
"We observed that the dog would teach the bear things, and there were certain things that the bear wanted to do that she wasn't able to do yet because she was too young or she hadn't quite learned those skills yet, so it was a really unique way to tell an interspecies story," Stefanou said.
"And it was interesting to see, too, Tallulah not having a mother around, clearly took her cues from that shepherd, and the shepherd seemed to understand, 'Now she needs to rest.' The dog stands guard while she's having her downtime," added executive producer Lisa Lucas. "That was just a really sweet big brother/little sister piece."
Though Kayden and Tallulah's story was filmed May 12-15, Animal Planet informs us that the two are still buddies who play every day, even though the bear has grown quite a bit.
"There's an interesting visual at the end (of the show)," Lucas said. "We do an epilogue where we catch up with these animals in the months after having filmed with them. It's a photo of Tallulah and Kayden, and she's bigger than he is!"
"Too Cute! Animal Best Friends" airs Saturday at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Animal Planet.
First published November 15 2013, 7:34 AM