For weeks, the pair traveled the wilderness together. But the relationship was not meant to last. One day while drinking by the river, Kamuniak let the oryx out of her sight for a few seconds – and another lion leapt out of the bushes and attacked the baby.
"[Kamuniak] was clearly terrified of the male lion but she acted exactly like a mother losing her cub, she couldn't leave the scene," said Douglas-Hamilton. But the very next day the lioness went out and killed an impala and fed herself.
She went on to adopt five more oryx calves, though none of the relationships lasted as long as the first, she said.
"It was really charming to see them together. It was like something out of a fairy tale and there was a real sort of intimacy between them. It was really strange. But then again, we develop strong intimate relationships with our pets which are different species," said Douglas-Hamilton. "We do it? Why can't lions?"
If bonds were based on size, these two wouldn't even be acquaintances.
But somehow Bella, a 30-pound dog, and Tara, a 4-ton Asian elephant, have become the best of friends since meeting in 2005.
"They are close. They are always together. They play together, they talk. They sleep, they eat – everything together," said Carol Buckley, founder of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee.
One day, while exploring property near their sanctuary, Buckley and her partner, Scott Blais, came across a white chow mix that appeared to have a bizarre fascination with big pieces of equipment, such as tractors.
The two brought her home and watched as that attraction extended to the hulking creatures at their park, including one in particular: Tara the elephant.
"Elephants are incredibly careful around their young. Even when they're running and a baby is running around in and around their legs, family members never trip up over a baby. They never nick the baby, they never step on the baby, so I never was concerned for Tara and Bella," said Buckley.
In 2007, when an injury partially paralyzed Bella and forced her indoors, Tara held a vigil outside her window and called to her until caretakers brought her outside. Bella's injury eventually healed and the two now roam the refuge together again.
"It's 24/7. It is a very loving and compassionate relationship they have," said Buckley. "They play together and they never want to be separated."
"Unlikely Animal Friends" will air Saturday, Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. ET on the National Geographic channel. For more information, click here.