Animals who saved human lives: pig, dogs, gorilla, lions

Here are five cases of animals, including wild creatures — a potbellied pig, a Labrador Retriever, a pitbull, a gorilla, and a group of lions — who saved humans’ lives.

(1) Lulu, the Potbellied Pig

The mom of Lulu’s owner, JoAnn Altsman, collapsed onto the ground from a heart attack. So Lulu risked her own life by going out on the road to summon help. Lulu would lay down in front of oncoming cars. When cars won’t stop, Lulu returned to check on Altsman. The pig did that for 45 minutes until a motorist finally stopped to check on the pig. Lulu led the motorist back home to Altsman. The motorist then called paramedics, and Altsman was taken to the hospital.

Lulu was recognized for her heroism with a medal and a big jelly donut.

(2) Penny, the Labrador Retriever

Penny was walking along the river with her owner, Brenda Owens, when they saw an empty wheelchair along the river bank and an unresponsive woman floating in the river. Brenda told Penny, “Fetch! Fetch!”, and Penny immediately jumped into the fast flowing river and pulled out the unconscious woman. Brenda administered CPR to revive the woman, and called for help. The woman was taken to ER.

(3) Angel, the Homeless Pitbull

In Port Charlotte, UK, Angela was leaving a  playground with her toddler son, when they were accosted in the parking lot by a man with a knife. A stray pitbull charged at the man, growling and baring his teeth. The man fled.

The dog was taken to an animal shelter. If the owner did not come to claim the dog, Angela would adopt the pitbull, whom she named Angel.

(4) Gorilla of Brookfield Zoo

On August 16, 1996, in Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, 3-year-old fell into the gorilla compound and lost consciousness. That attracted the attention of the gorillas. An 8-year-old female gorilla gently cuddled the boy in her arms to protect him from the other gorillas. She carried the boy 60 feet to the enclosure’s entrance, where zoo workers retrieved the boy. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he recovered fully.

(5) Lions of Ethiopia

In southwest Ethiopia, on her way home from school, a 12-year-old girl was snatched by four men. As the men were pursued by police, they came across a group of lions. The lions chased away the men, stayed with the girl without harming her, until police arrived. A wildlife expert maintained that the lions protected the girl because her cries sounded like the mewing of a lion cub.

Lulu the potbellied pig, Penny the Labrador Retriever, Angel the homeless pitbull, the Brookfield gorilla, and the Ethiopian lions demonstrate that animals:

  • Possess and exercise free will.
  • Have empathy for others.
  • Display a highest form of morality — that of altruism — by acting selflessly for the good of another.

They put some humans to shame.

For more examples of animal heroism, empathy and altruism, see:

UPDATE (March 10, 2017):

I did a net search for “Lulu the potbellied pig” and am happy to verify her story.

Lulu’s heroism took place in 1998 in Beaver Falls, PA. She achieved worldwide fame, reported by New York Times and USA Today, and appeared on Good Morning America, 20-20, National Geographic, and foreign TV. The ASPCA awarded her a Tiffany gold hero’s medal.

Click here for a article on Lulu!



8 responses to “Animals who saved human lives: pig, dogs, gorilla, lions

  1. Everything depends on the human, if the animal is well taught, there is no problem, in general.


    • “Everything depends on the human”

      So that’s what you got from this post? Pray tell, what human(s) taught the gorilla in the zoo, and the WILD lions of Ethiopia? Why can’t you accord animals their own dignity and autonomy, without attributing everything that they do or don’t do to humans?

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Liked by 1 person

  3. I was blown away with the story of the LULU . . . she had to be extremely intelligent in her own right to go into the street, lay down to attempts at stopping traffic. No one taught her that activity, she thought that up all on her own. I literally had tears in my eyes, just thinking about that dear animal. There is no doubt that the animals that God created, many of them for our pleasure, are so unique, so wonderful. I was also truly taken by the female gorilla, she had such a mothering instinct, that she took that little boy as her baby, and took him to where he could get help.

    My sweet little cat, Baby. who is now showing signs of aging, has taught herself a new behavior. If I am lying on my back in bed, she will come to my side and kind of throw her body over my chest. In return, I “talk” to her telling her how much her Mama loves her, how pretty she is, and I have even gone as far as telling her the names of my other pet’s, and that if she gets to Heaven before me, she should seek out Tiffany, Ebony, Buster and Sissy, and tell them that I love them and am waiting to be reunited with them.

    Our world would be such an abysmal and dreary place if we did not have animals to brighten our days, and to love and help us during our sojourn her on earth.

    Wonderful post!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Really great post. I remember the boy saved by the gorilla and the story about Lulu. This is a real heart-warmer.
    But I would disagree with you on theological grounds: Animals—at least the higher ones—do possess will, but their will IS NOT free. The late Dr. Nathaniel Branden—no saint he—argued (I believe successfully) that the intellects and wills of animals are strictly limited to the information in front of them.
    Some researchers have “proved” (with or without the quotation marks) that baboons and some monkeys or primates can count up to three. Years ago, I saw a program on the dolphins at Sea World, who had to create a new trick to be fed a fish. Let us assume that these reports are true. It does not contradict the fact that man, and man alone (I mean to include both genders in the term in the collective sense) can abstract principles from events and that man alone can examine his own behavior. Man alone has the ability to conceptualize and examine the morality of his own choices—he has a conscience. Animals do not need a conscience (although some can display a sense of shame): They do not sin, and don’t need one. They cannot sin because their choices are not free. That is the level of their confined will. Their knowledge is limited to sense perception; They can neither abstract principles, deal in concepts or examine the morality of their own behavior.
    Again, we are stuck with the question of the afterlife for animals. St. Thomas Aquinas argued that as they are not rational, they have no reward or punishment coming, and hence, have no afterlife. St. Bonaventure, on the other hand, considered their moral innocence and left the door open to the hope that they do. Aquinas was possessed of perhaps the greatest intellect history has ever known (other than Jesus Christ), but he was not infallible. And Bonaventure contradicted nothing of Catholic theology in his sentiments.
    I certainly hope that the animals—brutes in the words of Aquinas—have an afterlife. They do possess their spirits. But I would rue the day when they are granted legal rights, citizenship and passports! Then they could run for political office!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • In the span of 45 minutes, Lulu the potbellied pig made a series of decisions, on which she voluntarily acted, for altruistic, not self-interested reasons:

      (1) She made an assessment of her owner’s mom being afflicted and in need of help — help that a pig cannot provide.
      (2) Lulu determined that she must find help from a human.
      (3) Lulu, freely, left her home and went onto a road.
      (4) Lulu, freely and despite endangering herself, lay down in front of oncoming cars, with the purpose of stopping them.
      (5) When the cars wouldn’t stop (presumably driving around her), Lulu returned to her home to check on the unconscious woman.
      (6) Lulu then returned to lay on the road.
      (7) When a motorist finally stopped, got out of the car to see what’s wrong with the pig, Lulu led the human to her home and the unconscious woman.

      Whatever “free will” means, Lulu the potbellied pig certainly displayed it. Dr. Nathaniel Branden is not all-knowing: he knew, at best, only what scientists/ethologists knew about animals at the time. I’ve made this observation before on FOTM: The ubiquity of cell phone cameras are now doing a better job than ethologists in gathering evidence and testimonials about animal behavior (e.g., see my post on the turtle in Taipei zoo) — evidence that are publicized because of the Internet.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Maybe Lulu saw her owner or others getting help from other people in mundane or simple tasks, and her instincts picked that up. But that would be a matter of the intellect and not the will. Whatever the truth of the matter is, I still maintain, along with Aquinas and Branden (on opposite sides of the religious divide) that the will of animals is not free, at least in the Thomistic sense of the term. We do have free will, and yet, still experience compulsion. Compulsion and neuroses or not, our will, although free, is not unlimited.
        But I do enjoy these animal posts, Dr. E.


  5. Pingback: KOMMONSENTSJANE – Animals who saved human lives: pig, dogs, gorilla, lions — Fellowship of the Minds | kommonsentsjane

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