Animal rescuer Leanne Lauricella has witnessed plenty of cute animal friendships over the years, but most of them pale in comparison to the bond shared by two residents at her shelter.
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Leanne is the founder and president of Goats of Anarchy, a nonprofit that rescues and rehabilitates goats and other farm animals with special needs.
Set on a sprawling 30-acre ranch in Hampton, New Jersey, GOA is currently home to more than 130 animals. Along with goats who are blind, sick, or in need of wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs to get around, the shelter takes in unwanted horses, donkeys, cows, sheep, pigs, alpacas, and birds.
One of their residents is a 7-month-old lamb named Gigi. She has lived at the shelter since birth and has become a mother figure to the other animals. In fact, Leanne said she has an “old soul” because she instinctively goes to comfort anyone who is scared or needs some nurturing.
“She plays gently with the babies and cuddles the ones who need it,” Leanne told People.
So when an injured duck named Merlin arrived one day, it didn’t take long for Gigi to seek him out. Merlin has a leg injury that prevents him from walking. While GOA tried out a variety of things to help him move around, none of them worked, and now he spends his time hanging out in his little pool and sunbathing. Thankfully, he’s not alone!
“A couple of weeks ago, we spotted Gigi laying next to Merlin in the grass, and we thought it was so cute,” Leanne explained. “We weren’t too surprised because Gigi is such a cuddler but thought it was just a one-time occurrence. But the next day, she did it again.”
Soon, their cuddle sessions became a regular occurrence! Gigi now visits Merlin every day, and the pair curls up together for hours.
“It’s like she is trying to comfort him,” Leanne said. “At first, he seemed a little annoyed, but now he grooms her and snuggles with her. They have developed a friendship, and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen on the farm.”
Volunteers at the shelter were so amazed by this special friendship that they shared pictures of them online. They’re hoping to encourage donations so GOA can continue helping animals in need, especially now that COVID-19 has left them unable to welcome human guests.
“We hope that this will change in the next few months because we love having visitors,” Leanne said. “We feel it’s so important for people to experience farm animals in person because our guests are usually amazed at how social the animals are.”
These unlikely besties are warming hearts around the world! If you would like to support friendships like Gigi and Merlin’s, you can donate on the GOA website. You can also keep up with their daily cuddles on Instagram.
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