Perfect for Valentine's Day and every day, True Love is filled with uplifting stories from the animal kingdom and heartwarming accounts of animal emotions, friendships, romance, sibling and parent-child love. Author Rachel Buchholz, a longtime editor with National Geographic Kids magazine, has been collecting amazing animal stories for more than a decade and has gathered her favorites to show the many kinds of love that animals share, from inseparable best friends to romantically devoted duos. Touching photographs, inspiring animal facts, and meaningful quotes about love round out the book, making it a special way to show someone the true meaning of love. Stories include:
Brother and sister bears: In Cooper Landing, Alaska, a fishing guide spotted brother and sister grizzly bears fishing in the river. The brother had an injured front paw from a gunshot wound (the same hunter had killed his mother) and couldn't catch salmon. Brother bear would charge, the fish would scatter, and he came up empty-pawed every time. The guide was worried about the cub until she saw his sister, who normally would have gone off on her own, stay by his side catching fish and dropping them at his feet. She stayed with her brother for four weeks to catch fish for him.
Lioness supermom: When a little lion cub fell halfway down a cliff, a group of lionesses didn't know what to do. At the cliff's bottom lurked hungry crocodiles, and one false move could send them and the baby tumbling down to become prey. Four lionesses try and give up: the cliff is too treacherous for them. But the lion's mother climbs down the sheer cliff face, scoops him up in her mouth, and crawls up the cliff side to safety.
Bear the bobcat and Robi the caracal: In Sherwood, Oregon, Bear the bobcat was blind, grumpy, and friendless. He didn't get along with any of the other captive cats at his sanctuary. His keepers were worried about him until Robi the caracal moved into the enclosure next door. The bobcat perked up and started rubbing against the fence of his new neighbor. When the two were introduced to each other, Bear affectionately head-butted Robi and they became best friends forever. Now Robi serves as Bear's "guide cat."
Jake and Jemima, ducks in love: In North Devon, England, Jake the Muscovy duck waddled for weeks to return to his sweetheart, Jemima. Their owner had given Jake to a friend eight miles away. But Jake overcame three snowstorms and animal threats to return to Jemima. Muscovy ducks can't fly very high-only a few feet-and he had to find his way around four-foot-high hedges and fences to get back to his girl. When he found Jemima again, his owner saw the two ducks cuddle up "like an old married couple."
Rachel Buchholz is the executive editor of National Geographic Kids and National Geographic Little Kids magazines in Washington, D.C. In her more than 15 years editing for the tween market she has learned that dogs love to skateboard, that ghosts live in the White House, that a stack of currency one mile high contains more than 14 million bills, and that if you’re in doubt, run a story about Harry Potter. Buchholz has helped the magazine’s 1.1 million readers set five Guinness World Records, and in the process of collecting large amounts of stuff has talked Cameron Diaz out of her sneakers (Longest Chain of Shoes) and Ben Stiller out of his jeans (Largest Collection of Clothes to Recycle). She is the author of the Children's Choice-nominated book How to Survive Anything: Shark Attack, Lightning, Embarrassing Parents, Pop Quizzes, and Other Perilous Situations and a former editor at Boys’ Life magazine in Dallas. Although she will tell you that she’s originally from Texas, documents reveal that Buchholz actually grew up in Oklahoma.
When Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog met at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, they quickly formed a close friendship. Bella trusted the 8,700-pound elephant so much that she let Tarra rub her belly with her trunk. When Bella fell ill, caretakers carried Bella outside so the two animals could be in contact with each other. “Bella and Tarra gave each other unconditional love 24/7,” says sanctuary cofounder Carol Buckley. But later, tragedy struck: Bella was found dead, presumably killed by coyotes. Strangely, no evidence of an attack—tufts of hair, bloodstained grass was found near her body. Keepers did, however, find blood on the underside of Tarra’s trunk as if she had carried her friend home from the fatal encounter. No one knows for sure if this really happened, but one thing is true: Tarra honored her best friend till the end.
Her Brother’s Keeper
When Stacy Corbin, a fishing guide in Alaska, observed a young male grizzly bear trying to catch salmon, he was worried. Grizzlies probe river bottoms with their front feet until they feel a fish, pin it down, and grab it with their teeth. But a hunter had killed this bear’s mother and shot her cub in the foreleg, and the young grizzly was left nearly helpless. Because of his injury, he was only scattering the salmon. Without help, the grizzly would die. But then Corbin saw the bear’s sister snag six salmon and drop them at his feet. “She fed him for weeks,” Corbin says. “He wouldn’t have made it without her.” Normally a female bear her age would’ve gone off on her own, but she chose to stay by her brother’s side and help him eat until he was strong enough to feed himself.
A Rockin’ Dad
Some parents will do anything to have a child. This flamingo was so dedicated to becoming a dad that he tried to hatch a rock. Male and female flamingo pairs, which usually mate for life and raise chicks together, take turns warming their eggs until they hatch. But Andy, a flamingo that lives at the Wild-fowl and Wetlands Trust in England, sat on an egg- shaped stone. Nigel Jarrett, head of conservation breeding at the wetlands, thinks that the real egg was knocked from the nest into the water. Then the bird may have mistaken an egg-shaped stone buried in his nest for the egg. “When he saw it, he probably did what any other expectant daddy flamingo would do he sat on it!” Jarrett says. The flamingo stayed with his adopted egg for two days until he caught on. His egg may have been fake, but Andy’s devotion was definitely real.