"Are you my mommy?" Meet furry, four-legged moms who adopted, nursed and nurtured animals of completely different species.
The first mom up is Cleopatra, a shar-pei who "adopted" two baby tigers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, on June 4, 2012. The tigers, whose mother refused to feed them, found an unusual wet nurse in the wrinkly, sand-colored dog. The cubs were born in late May in a zoo at the October health resort in Sochi.
Emmy, a sweet-natured tortoiseshell mother cat, readily adopted Rocky, a baby squirrel who fell out of his nest, in September 2010. Rocky landed in the yard of Jim and Karen Watkins of Carthage, Miss., and they brought him to Emmy to see whether she would nurse him along with her new litter of three kittens. She accepted the squirrel right away, and Rocky did some quick adapting of his own: He learned how to purr just like a cat.
Isabella, a golden retriever in Kansas who adopted three white Bengal tiger cubs and nursed them as her own. The tiger cubs -- Nasira, Anjika and Sidani -- needed somewhere to turn because their mother stopped nursing them 15 hours after their birth. Zookeepers Tom and Allie Harvey brought the cubs home, and their dog Isabella stepped right up.
Katjinga, a Rhodesian ridgeback dog who lives on a 20-acre farm in Germany, adopted an abandoned pot-bellied piglet in August 2009. The tiny black piglet, named Paulinchen, had been so small at birth that her mother likely overlooked it. Katjinga's owner, Roland Adam, found the piglet alone and cold and brought it to his 8-year-old dog. "She loved the piglet at first sight and cares about it in the way she did for her own puppies," Adam said. "Days later she started lactating again and giving milk for the piggy. She obviously regards it now as her own baby."
When the tree these baby squirrels called home was felled by a chain saw, Pixie the poodle was there to help. Pixie still had milk after giving birth to her first litter of puppies a few months earlier, and she accepted the three squirrels with no qualms in March 2010. She nursed the homeless squirrels for five weeks at her North Carolina home, and then an animal rehabilitation specialist continued raising them until they were ready to be released.
A Siamese cat named Amanda, owned by Debbie Girting of Beaver, Pa., is shown here nursing her two newborn kittens along with an orphaned litter of puppies in March 2010. Lucy, Girting's Maltese Pomeranian dog, gave birth to seven pups on March 7, and Amanda's kittens were born on the exact same day. Sadly, four days later, Lucy had a seizure and died. Amanda stepped right up and adopted the puppies as her own.
Laska the Alsatian immediately viewed it as her mission to nurture two tiny, abandoned wild boars who were close to death when they were found in Hamburg, Germany in March 2010. The baby boars -- dubbed Alice and Emma -- were brought to the home of the Heckers, Laska's owners. Because of their small size, baby boars can't stay warm enough alone at night to keep alive. Laska focused on snuggling up against them to keep them warm, cleaning them with her tongue and picking them up whenever they toppled over. To read more about Laska and the baby boars, visit PeoplePets.com.
Smaigel the cat nurses her kittens and four puppies at her owner Mohammad Al-Hamoury's house in Amman, Jordan in February 2009. Smaigel took it upon herself to care for the puppies after their mother died in a car accident.
The young elk pictured here was rescued from a flooding river by a farmer in South Korea in July 2009. This female dog eagerly adopted the elk and began breastfeeding and guarding him.
Chia, a Pomeranian in Emporia, Kan., let four abandoned kittens nurse from her in August 2000. Chia, who had a 2-week-old puppy of her own at the time, adopted the motherless kittens after they were found by her owner's boyfriend. "Her mother instincts took over," owner Kelsey Wilson said. "She herded them and got them to nurse."
Koko the gorilla has loved cuddling and nurturing kittens since 1984. Gorilla Foundation volunteer Janis Turner arranged to have a litter of orphaned kittens visit Koko in September 2009, and Koko became especially enamored with a tiny orange kitten named Tigger, pictured here. "Something fascinated her about Tigger," Turner told PeoplePets.com. "Koko purrs. I get chills just thinking about it. She does this deep purr and she's so gentle and has this loving looking in her eye. ... Kittens are so calm around Koko because she has that motherly instinct." Read more about Koko at PeoplePets.com.
The "Happy Families" exhibits at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Thailand certainly aren't run-of-the-mill. They feature animal families of mixed species, including families of baby pigs adopted by tiger mothers and families of tiger cubs adopted by mother pigs. One such surrogate sow is pictured here in this April 2009 photo with her baby tiger cubs.
Tita, a cat who belongs to Ruben Gaviria, breastfeeds a squirrel as her kitten plays with it at Gaviria's house near Medellin, Colombia. Gaviria rescued the squirrel after it was found injured in a park in February 2010.
A lion tamarin monkey at the London Zoo is so known for her strong motherly instincts that zookeepers dubbed her "Maternal Juanita." And in the summer of 2010, Juanita found a way to make her dreams come true: She adopted a monkey of another species – a baby emperor tamarin. The surrogate mom began carrying her adopted baby around on her back. The publication LiveScience noted how "the emperor tamarin's grey body and white moustache stand out against its 'mother's' fiery orange mane."
Three baby pigs rest next to their adoptive mother, Sai Mai, an 8-year-old tiger, at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Thailand in January 2010. Sai Mai nurses and cares for the piglets as if they were her own.
Many male animals have strong parental impulses, too. Take, for instance, this wild long-tailed macaque monkey in Bali, Indonesia. He stunned animal lovers around the world when he adopted an abandoned kitten and cared for it as his own. The monkey was spotted in a forest protectively nuzzling and grooming the ginger kitten, making sure no harm came to it. The extraordinary sight was captured by amateur photographer Anne Young while on a holiday to the Monkey Forest Park in Bali's Ubud region.