Friends give us companionship, laughs, and good times. But friends also help us out. And in return, we help them. Sometimes, the more someone is different from us, the more we are able to help one another. Just ask Mother Nature. Scientists have observed all sorts of animals relationships and incidents where species team up to help one another out. 

Inspired by some of the more unlikely pairs in the animal kingdom, we’ve shared five animal duos that demonstrate the two-way street of friendship.

Zebras and Ostriches

Ostriches and zebras have often been spotted grazing together in the wild, and for good reason. The two make quite a defense team. Ostriches have poor hearing and smell, but excellent eyesight. Zebras on the other hand can’t see too well but have a superb sense of smell and hearing. The two are often able to detect predators for the other. With their senses combined, grazing is much safer for both species.

Clownfish and Sea Anemone

Sea anemones are poisonous to most fish, but not the colorful clownfish! The clownfish secretes a mucous that protects him from the anemone’s sting. As a result, he is able to make a nice home in the anemone’s tentacles. In exchange, the anemone gets extra nutrients from the clownfish’s scraps and waste. Not to mention, as the clownfish swims and moves around the anemone, it increases ventilation, giving the anemone access to more oxygen.

Cleaner Shrimp and Large Fish

Known colloquially as Cleaner Shrimp, these little guys are exactly what they sound like. Cleaner shrimp wander into the mouths of bigger fish, but instead of being feasted on, the shrimp do the feasting instead! They feed on the parasites and gunk that accumulates in fishes’ mouths. The shrimp gets a good meal, and the fish get a nice teeth cleaning.

Coyotes and Badgers

Coyotes and badgers have an interesting hot and cold relationship. Though they don’t generally interact (and sometimes even prey on each other), the two have been known to hunt and catch food together. The coyote is nimble and fast while the badger can dig at small mammals that bury into the ground. Because they are both carnivores, one would think that they are constant competitors, but scientists have noted that they frequently work together.  

Rhinos and Oxpeckers

Rhinos have been spotted with funny little birds on their back. But the birds aren’t just perching, they’re feeding on the rhino’s parasites. The rhino gets some relief from pests while the oxpecker gets a good meal. An added benefit for the rhino is that oxpeckers tend to let out a scream and fly away when they spot a predator, giving rhinos a little heads up for when danger is near.

These animals are here to prove that you’re liable to find allies in unexpected places. So stay open-minded. You never know who might be your match!