Guard dog becomes best friend and protector to abandoned baby giraffe

It’s always inspiring to see rescue organizations step up to rescue and take care of animals—but it’s even more inspiring when it’s other animals helping out.

Animals can be surprisingly compassionate and emotionally intelligent, and are capable of recognizing when another creature is helpless and in need of protection.

Like this amazing dog, who stepped up to befriend a poor abandoned giraffe.

As their name would suggest, South African wildlife rescue The Rhino Orphanage specializes in saving baby rhinos. But recently, they took in a very different new arrival: a days-old baby giraffe, who had been abandoned by his mother and was found by a farmer in a comatose state.

The rescue hooked the giraffe up to an IV and fed it intravenous food, and after several hours he showed signs of waking. Slowly but surely, he came back to life.

“It seems like the little boy is getting stronger,” Rhino Orphanage wrote on Facebook. “He managed to stand up a few times with the help of our carers and walked around this evening on very unsure legs.”

While promising, it would be a rough road ahead: baby giraffes, they wrote, are tough to care for, because of their height and their difficulty with bottle feeding.

While caring for a giraffe was out of their wheelhouse, they had faith they could help the poor creature: “We have a few tricks up our sleeves that will hopefully pay off.” They named the giraffe Jazz.

But it was the most unexpected staff member who really fell for the little giraffe.

“Our anti-poaching and security dog Hunter has fallen head over heals for the little giraffe and has claimed ownership since Jazz’s arrival,” Rhino Orphanage wrote.

Hunter became attached to Jazz right away—he was apparently so worried about the giraffe’s coma status that he lost his appetite, which returned once Jazz was awake and safe.

Since then, he’s been keeping an eye out to protect his new friend, staying in his room to make sure his brother Duke stays away.

Meanwhile, Jazz has continued to make a recovery. They successfully got him on bottle feeding, and when he was just seven days old they got him started on eating branches of leaves.

Jazz is being treated for a blood-red eye so he hasn’t been able to go outside yet, but is otherwise getting along nicely.

And in the meantime, he has a close friend to keep him company.

His carers have continued to be stunned by how close the dog and giraffe have gotten along. They posted a video of the two playfully licking each other’s face:

It’s amazing how animals can form friendships like this, and how those friendships can really make a difference in one’s recovery.

Jazz has been making better progress than anyone could’ve imagined. They’re taking it day-by-day, but the hope is that Jazz will be able to return to the wild where he belongs.

“Possibly soon he will be able to go home,” caretaker Janie Van Heerden told AP.

What a beautiful friendship between animals! We hope Jazz continues to make a speedy recovery. Share this incredible story!