Just like humans, animals need friends and companionship. They can get lonely, and having a good friend by their side can really make an impact.
That’s certainly the case for one bison, who after being alone for years finally made a friend who changed everything.
Helen is a big friendly bison who never had much companionship. She is blind, and on her original owner’s farm in Salem she mostly stayed by herself.
When she was transported to Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary in 2016 when her owner couldn’t afford her anymore, she had more animals to play with, but was always too shy around them.
It turned everything around for this lonely bison: “The change in her demeanor is incredible, her joy is palpable,” sanctuary executive director Gwen Jakubisin told USA Today.
For Helen, Oliver was more than a much-needed companion—he was something like a surrogate child.
“I catch them grooming each other which is amazing because I don’t think Helen has ever had that opportunity to express that motherly instinct before,” Jakubisin said.
While the calf has a mother on the farm, a cow named Betsy, Helen serves as something like a nanny for Oliver—Betsy is happy to hand her son over for “day care” for the day.
The arrival of Oliver has made life better for Helen, who seems to be getting along well with the animals on the farm now, as if Oliver helped her overcome her shyness.
She’s even continued to mentor other animals, including an orphaned calf named Italo.
It’s clear looking at Helen and Oliver that they have a special connection… not just in the way they play together, but in the peculiar physical similarities they’ve taken on.
For some peculiar reason, Oliver’s brown coloring is closer to Helen’s than his actual mother’s.
“He’s actually turned into a baby buffalo,” Jakubisin joked.
It’s inspiring to see animals forge such real loving bonds. It’s a reminder that they aren’t so different than people… which fits perfectly in with Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary’s mission statement.
“By fostering beautiful, meaningful bonds between people and the animals they may see as ‘food’ or as ‘things’ we are changing the future for the individuals who mean so much to us,” they wrote.
“All of our residents cohabitate peacefully and have strong friendships with one another. They know they are safe and loved. We like to call it a kind of magic created by love, trust, and understanding.”
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