Dr. Dolittle may be fictional, but there are some real-life animal lovers who seem like they can truly talk with the animals. These beastmasters have no problem befriending critters that others may find intimidating and unapproachable. From these amazing relationships, countless others have learned how "human" wild animals can really be.
WE'RE NOT LYING
Beastmaster: Anthony “Ace” Bourke and John Rendall
Animal Accomplice: Christian the Lion
The Story: Australians Bourke and Rendall adopted Christian the lion out of a tiny cage in London's Harrod's department store. Hoping to give him a better life, the pair raised the cub in their flat without any restraints until the animal was a year old. At this point the friends realized the lion needed a bigger home and moved him to a nature reserve in Kenya. Bourke and Rendall still visit their old pet, who eagerly hugs them like family whenever they arrive. (MSNBC)
MORE THAN I CAN BEAR
Beastmaster: Mark Dumas
Animal Accomplice: Bears
The Story: A visit to the Dumas house can be like taking a trip into the wild. Mark Dumas runs an animal-handling company that provides critters for film and television. Sometimes his job requires some serious hands-on work. Dumas has raised both a grizzly bear and a polar bear in his home to help the animals become familiar with human interaction and training.
MEETING OUR ANCESTORS
Beastmaster: Jane Goodall
Animal Accomplice: Chimpanzees
The Story: At only 26, Jane Goodall ventured to Tanzania to observe chimpanzees in their natural habitat. Since little was known about the animal, Goodall's observations provided a wealth of knowledge to the primatology field. Thanks to her patience and intelligence, Goodall was able to gain the trust of the chimpanzees, which allowed her to view the animals at their most personal moments. Her work revamped our view on the primates' social structures and has led Goodall on a life long quest to protect these animals. (Discovery)
DO YOU SPEAK MARMOT?
Beastmaster: Matteo Walch
Animal Accomplice: Marmots
The Story: Matteo has been visiting the Alps with his family every year since her was 4, and he is always greeted by some unusual locals. The 8-year-old boy has formed an adorable bond with the area's marmots. The often shy creatures seem to adore Matteo, coming to greet the boy and play with him. The result is one of the most precious friendships we have ever seen.
FREED BY A FRIEND
Beastmaster: Jeff Guidry
Animal Accomplice: Freedom the Eagle
The Story: Jeff Guidry and Freedom the eagle first met at a wildlife center when the bird arrived in sorry shape. With both wings broken and a thin frame, Freedom needed help. Jeff took the bird under his own wing, encouraging Freedom to get better. The now healthy eagle repaid the favor by providing Jeff companionship through his own cancer battle. (YouTube)
QUEEN OF THE JUNGLE
Beastmaster: Birute Galdikas
Animal Accomplice: Orangutans
The Story: Birute Galdikas isn't afraid to get messy. The animal advocate lived in a shack in the jungles of Borneo for 30 years to raise awareness about orangutans. During her time in the wild, Galdikas saved countless orangutan orphans, increased the knowledge of rainforest preservation and learned priceless information about one of our closest animal ancestors. Her work has been lauded by many animal-rights greats and her work is still considered the longest continual study of one species. (People)
BIG CAT, BIG LOVE
Beastmaster: Andrey Golosov
Animal Accomplice: Seva the Cheetah
The Story: As you would expect from a vet student, Andrey Golosov had a soft spot for needy animals. The 24-year-old man hand-reared a cheetah cub after the baby animal was abandoned by its mother. Playing the role of parent, Andrey lived with Seva for five months before returning her to the Moscow Zoo. Seva never forgot her daddy; the natural predator is all kisses and cuddles when Andrey comes to visit. (The Sun)
ONE OF THE PACK
Beastmaster: Shaun Ellis
Animal Accomplice: Wolves
The Story: Shaun Ellis wasn't raised by wolves as a boy, so he decided he wanted to try it as an adult. First, Shaun spent several months learning the body language and social order of wolves confined to research centers. With this knowledge, he was able to infiltrate their packs and act like one of the animals. But this was not enough for Shaun; he later set out into the Rocky Mountains as a lone wolf in order to infiltrate a wild pack. The brave man was met with success and an incredible experience he will never forget. (Daily Mail)
HOME ON THE RANGE
Beastmaster: RC Bridges
Animal Accomplice: Pet Buffalo
The Story: Think Great Danes are big? RC's housepets take up more than twice the room. The animal trainer keeps two buffalo as pets, allowing the animals to ride in his truck and share the living room; one of them was even the best man at Bridges' vow renewal. RC decided to adopt this unusual animal lifestyle after he trained the buffaloes and realized he was unable to part with them.
GORILLAS IN THE MIST
Beastmaster: Dian Fossey
Animal Accomplice: Gorillas
The Story: Dian Fossey dedicated her life to learning about the behavior of gorillas and advocating their conservations. Fossey lived with the animals for 20 years, closely studying their social structures and personalities. She published her experiences with the gentle giants in "Gorillas in the Mist." Sadly, Fossey was murdered in 1985, but her work for gorillas and against poaching is still lauded today. (Biography)
AIN'T NO BUDDY TOO BIG OR CREEPY
Beastmaster: Charlie Walker
Animal Accomplice: Boa Constrictor
The Story: Charlie has creature appreciation pumping through his blood. He is the son of two wildlife park owners, so animal handling comes with the territory. Charlie has started following in his family footsteps in a big way by befriending a boa constrictor. The boy loves spending time playing with the snake and carrying the 20-pound reptile around. This kid may just grow up to be fearless.
Next: Woman Raises Lion Cub in Her Home
A REAL GRIZZLY MAN
Beastmaster: Timothy Treadwell
Animal Accomplice: Grizzly Bears
The Story: Treadwell lived among grizzly bears for 13 summers at Katmai National Park in Alaska. During these trips, Treadwell would film the bears up close, sometimes even getting in play fights with cubs. These interactions led Treadwell to form Grizzly People, an organization dedicated to protecting the bears and their land. Unfortunately, Treadwell was killed by an aggressive bear preparing for hibernation. His work and bond with animals can be seen in Werner Herzog's film, "Grizzly Man."