Unlikely Heroes

37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom


A pod of dolphins who protected swimmers in New Zealand from a great white shark. A cat who provided comfort to soldiers in Afghanistan. A llama who shines his very special light of love on the elderly patients in an Oregon rehab center. A paralyzed bunny who brings joy to paralyzed children. An abandoned puppy who lost all four paws to frostbite—that’s him, smiling on the cover of the book—who learned to walk on prosthetics and inspires others with disabilities.

These are just some of the surprising and remarkable stories you’ll find in Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom (Workman; October 2014).

Jennifer S. Holland’s devotion to all species sent her on a journey to discover everything she could about the animal world. As she did in Unlikely Friendships and Unlikely Love, Holland proves even the tiniest of creatures is capable of great selfless acts and powerful emotion.

As a writer for National Geographic, Holland’s interest in animal relationships grew, leading her to search the globe for unusual animal stories—first in the form of friendships, then loves and now heroes. During her research, she found tales of animals who saved their owners or other animals from danger, who look out for the lonely or injured, and who act as surrogate parents or help humans with conservation work. And in each account she found a common thread: animal heroes, no matter their species, act not for recognition or fame, but for more modest reasons—kindness, loyalty and love. And once the heroic act is done, they live their lives exactly as they did before: eating, sleeping, playing, just as they are meant to.

Holland is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom and Unlikely Loves: 43 Heartwarming True Stories from the Animal Kingdom.