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Interspecies Adoption

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A father feeding his son.
Why can't they understand the way we feel?
They just don't trust what they can't explain
I know we're different, but deep inside us
We're not that different at all
Phil Collins, "You'll Be In My Heart", from the Tarzan soundtrack

Even in settings where talking, civilized, or funny animals exist, adoptions will still happen between parents and children. Some parents are caring enough to take in a child, regardless of their species. They may be animals raising a human child, humans raising an animal child, animals raising animals of a different species, or any combination of the three. It doesn't matter, as adoption is still adoption, and parents will always be parents. The subject of the adoption may or may not even be an issue among society.

Supertrope to:

It may also overlap with Moses in the Bulrushes and (especially in comic settings) Oblivious Adoption. Contrast Random Species Offspring when the child isn't just adopted - it's biological. In works where both the species are sapient, such adoptions are frequently allegories for real life interracial adoption, as in both situations the adopted characters will have to deal with the physical and often cultural differences between them and the rest of their family. May result in Small Parent, Huge Child.


There are numerous cases of this happening in real life among different animal species, even among animals that would normally eat one another. There are also many accounts, though few if any verified, of children while lost in the wilderness being protected or even raised by animals. Also given that humans are technically animals as well, raising pets also counts.

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Other Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Black Clover: Licita, a human woman, took in and raised Liebe, a devil, because as a devil with no magic he was impervious to her body's condition that absorbed the magic and life of living things.
  • Delicious in Dungeon: Though not directly mentioned in the series, Ryoko Kui's artbook reveals that the human twins Kiki and Kaka are this. The elderly gnome couple, Mr. and Mrs. Tansu, aren't their employers — they're the twins' parents, who raised them from infancy after they were abandoned by their birth family.
  • Dragon Ball: Son Goku is an extraterrestrial Saiyan adopted by the human Son Gohan. It was also Oblivious Adoption until Goku's evil Saiyan brother Raditz showed up.
  • Fairy Tail:
    • Natsu Dragneel was raised by a Fire Dragon named Igneel, who taught him how to read and write as well as to use Fire Dragon Slayer Magic. Five other Dragon Slayers, Gajeel, Wendy, Sting, and Rogue were also raised by Dragon Parents.
    • Happy and other Exceeds sent to Earthland were taken in and raised by human caretakers.
  • The Fox & Little Tanuki: An evil fox called Senzou is offered a chance at redemption by the Sun Goddess, in the form of putting him in charge of raising a tanuki pup called Manpachi to become a proper servant of the gods. They live together with a good female fox called Koyuki who also takes part in caring for Manpachi. Senzou is pretty bitter about the arrangement at first, but he comes to care for Manpachi, because they were both rejected by their biological parents. However, Senzou had nobody to care for him.
  • Jewelpet Kira Deco!: Episode 28 is about Rald, a panda, having adopted Luna, a rabbit. note 
  • Lyrical Nanoha has quite a bit of this with the sheer number of adoptions, although it can be hard to tell due to most of the cast being Human Aliens:
    • Vivio (Belka) was adopted by Nanoha (Earth) and Fate (Mid-Childa).
    • Fate was adopted by Lindy (Firstraum in the Movie continuity).
    • Erio (Unnamed homeworld) and Caro (Alzus) were both adopted by Fate (though Lindy's name is on the paperwork for Erio due to Fate's age).
  • Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms: Maquia, who's from a race of immortals, adopts Ariel, a human boy.
  • Pokémon
    • In the Sun and Moon anime, Litten has a parental figure in a very old Stoutland. The Stoutland later passes away, leading to Litten to choose Ash as its trainer.
    • Ash's Rowlet was hatched and raised in a flock of Pikipek, Trumbeak and Toucannon.
    • In the first episode of Journeys, it's shown through a flashback that Ash's Pikachu himself was adopted by a Kangaskhan when he was a very young Pichu, and stayed with her until shortly before he evolved into Pikachu.
  • In Transformers Victory, Star Saber, the new leader of the Autobots, adopts a human boy named Jean, who lost his parents to a Decepticon attack.
  • Uma Musume: Horse girl Special Week's biological mother died after she was born, so she was raised by her human friend.
  • In Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun, the demon Sullivan adopts the human Iruma after his Abusive Parents sell him, referring to him as his grandson.

    Comic Books 
  • Beasts of Burden has Ace and his dog pack adopt a human boy.
  • In the old print furry comic Havoc Inc Chester (ringtail cat) and Deck (canid) adopted a mouse girl.
  • Hellboy is a demon who was adopted by a human parent named Dr. Bruttenholm and raised under the watch of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. He was raised to appreciate humanity, even if he constantly has to deal with the fact that he's frighteningly different from them anyway.
  • The Mighty Thor: Asgardians Volstagg and his wife Hildegund adopt two Midgardian (Human) sons after their mother is killed by Zaniac (their Disappeared Dad either already died or left the family).
  • Red Tornado, an android, has an adopted human daughter named Traya.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe Legacy series, all three of Nat Skywalker's children count. First of all, his wife is a Kiffar, and Nat adopted her daughter Ahnah; secondly, said wife adopted Skeeto, a human child, along with Nat; and finally, the pair adopted Micah, a Cathar.
  • Superman:
    • Superman is probably the most famous example. He's an alien sent to Earth as a baby, and he grew up on a farm by the Kent family.
    • His cousin Supergirl is adopted by humans, too. Usually the Danvers or Lana Lang.
    • And in Last Son, Lois Lane and Clark would become the foster parents of Chris, another Kryptonian child.
  • Many Superman Substitutes:
    • Icon, with the twist that he looks like a black man, crashed in the antebellum period and was raised as a slave.
    • Hyperion in Supreme Power was found by a nice farm couple...and then taken in by the U.S. government, who raised him to be blindly obedient. It went badly.
    • In Irredeemable, the Plutonian was sent by aliens trying to study humans, and transformed to look like a human child. Unfortunately, he wound up bouncing around foster care for years and scared everybody with his powers.
    • PS238 has a very standard "raised by a farmer" story for Atlas, though there is a twist as to why.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: four adorable baby turtles fall into a sewer and are adopted by an ordinary rat (other than the whole "knows ninjutsu" thing). Only later do the five mutate and become intelligent.

    Comic Strips 
  • This Bad Habits strip, which is also an Oblivious Adoption, as human parents deciding to tell their dog son he's adopted.
  • U.S. Acres featured Orson (a pig) adopting chicks Booker and Sheldon as his sons.

    Films — Animation 
  • Back To The Outback: Jackie, a saltwater crocodile, refers to Maddie (a snake), Frank (a spider), Nigel (a scorpion), and Zoe (a lizard) as her babies, and considers herself their mother. It’s implied she watched over them all as they grew up, as she recalls that when they were brought to the zoo, they were too young to remember their old homes.
  • The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales has a fox steal three chicken eggs with the intent of eating them, only for them to hatch and imprint on him, and for him to decide to raise them as his own.
  • Eggs from The Boxtrolls is a Cheesebridge orphan raised since infancy by the eponymous Boxtrolls, to the point that for a long time he thinks he is one.
  • Aladar from Dinosaur is an Iguanodon raised by lemurs.
  • In Epic the two human children get adopted by a couple of dingoes who raise them as their own.
  • Frozen (2013) has Kristoff (a human) and Sven (a reindeer) adopted by the trolls (who are essentially living rocks with magical abilities).
  • Ellie from Ice Age: The Meltdown is a mammoth who was adopted by a possum. She even thinks that she's a possum until Manny can convince her that she's a mammoth.
  • Kung Fu Panda:
    • The page image comes from Kung Fu Panda 2. Po is a giant panda raised by Mr. Ping, a goose; this goes unmentioned in the first movie, but becomes a major plot point in the sequel. His biological family was seemingly massacred by Lord Shen during his attempt at wiping out the Pandas, but Po's father is still alive and living in a hidden panda enclave.
    • Master Shifu, a red panda, also adopted Tai Lung the snow leopard and Tigress the tigress. The rest of the Furious Five might qualify as well.
  • The Land Before Time has Spike, a Stegosaurus, get adopted by Ducky's family, who are hadrosaurs.
  • Most of Leafie, a Hen into the Wild revolves around a chicken hen and her Happily Adopted son (a duck).
  • The Lion King: After his father's death, Simba (lion) is taken in by Heterosexual Life-Partners Timon (a meerkat) and Pumbaa (warthog). This isn't really played as an adoption in the original film, though The Lion King 1½ plays it closer to this trope.
  • In Megamind, both the title character and his nemesis, Metro Man, came here a la Superman. Metro Man was adopted by a rich family; Megamind... crashed into a prison and was raised by the inmates. Why did nobody call Social Services?
  • In Mother For A Little Mammoth, a baby mammoth frozen in the ice wakes up in modern times and desperately tries to find his mother, until a walrus tells him he has heard of similar-looking animals living in Africa. The baby mammoth goes all the way south on an ice floe and gets Happily Adopted by an elephant.
  • Like it's source material the film Mr. Peabody & Sherman has Mr. Peabody (a dog) adopting Sherman (a human boy). Unlike it's source material, the relationship is explicitly portrayed as a father/son relationship, rather than a comedic inversion of "A Boy And His Dog".
  • In You Are Umasou, a Maiasaurus raises a Tyrannosaurus from birth, who in turn, after running away from home, adopts a baby Ankylosaurus after being mistaken for its father.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Babe, Babe the pig is adopted by Fly who is a dog.
  • In The Dark Crystal, Jen and Kira, who are Gelflings, were adopted and raised by the Mystics and Podlings respectively.
  • Elf: Buddy is a human adopted by one of Santa Claus' elves.
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Terran Peter Quill was adopted by Centaurian Yondu Udonta. It's revealed that Yondu was actually hired to take Peter to his dad, but decided Peter would be better off with the Ravagers than Peter's Jerkass real father.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog, before coming to earth, the titular hedgehog's primary caretaker and parental figure was an owl named Longclaw. By the end of the movie, he gets adopted by his human friends, Tom and Maddie.
  • The Stuart Little movie did this to remove the Fridge Logic from the original book (where the titular mouse character just had human parents for no apparent reason). This verges on Ascended Fanon, as E. B. White received letters from adoptive children for years talking about how Stuart was a wonderful allegory for the way they felt... despite White having no such intentions, and Stuart explicitly being Mr. and Mrs. Little's biological son in the book.
  • In Thor, Loki turns out to be a Frost Giant adopted by Odin and raised as his own under a glamour.
  • Disney's The Ugly Dachshund. A Great Dane thinks he's a dachshund because he was raised by a dachshund mother.

  • There is a famous joke about a turtle which constantly climbs up a tree and jumps down with its legs spread. After a few attempts (and the turtle getting quite a few traumas), a bird watching it from nearby asks its mate, "Should we tell our son he's adopted?"

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Mandalorian: The titular Mandalorian, a human, and The Child, whose species is unknown save that he's from the same one as Yoda. The Mando develops such a paternal connection with the child that he refuses to leave it with the Imperial remnant that hired him to find the kid. At the end of the first season The Armorer, the head of their tribe, declares The Child an official Mandalorian Foundling under Mando's care. On hearing this the Child happily coos at his new father.
    Armorer: A Foundling is in your care. By Creed, until it is of age or reunited with its own kind — you are as its father. This is the way.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Worf was adopted by the Rozhenkos, a human couple from Russia. In turn, Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko was also raised by Worf's adoptive parents after the mother died.
    • The episode "Suddenly Human" has a human boy whose birth parents were killed in a skirmish with the Talarians, who adopted the boy. While Picard initially believed he would be better back with the Federation, he eventually realizes that the boy wants to stay with his adoptive father.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has "Cardassians," which is very similar to the above except that it's about a Cardassian child raised by Bajorans. In this case, however, his still-living Cardassian father got custody, since the boy had actually been illegally given up by an enemy with a grudge.
  • Star Trek: Voyager has an odd example with a species that can resurrect the dead, and did so to a Voyager crew member who got a burial in space. She had lived for years with a "father" from that species, but eventually her memories of being on the ship came back and she tracked them down. However, she ultimately decided to return with the aliens.
    • Later in the series, the crew found a Borg ship with all the drones dead except for a few children, for whom Seven became a Parental Substitute; while all of them were former Borg drones, none of the kids were human. Three of the kids eventually left when Voyager for another ship they ran into; the oldest, Icheb, decided to stay on Voyager after learning that his birth parents genetically engineered him as a weapon against the Borg and purposely got him assimilated.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Pajanimals are a dog, a horse, a cow and a duck, but there is only one mother and father, albeit as off-screen voices. It's not even clear if the mother and father are the same species.

  • Cloudscratcher: Felix (a cat) was adopted by the Captain (a dog).
  • Furthia High has Cale, the last known human on earth adopted by an anthropomorphic cat and a tigress.
  • The trolls in Homestuck. It's societal norm for them to be raised by another species. However, these guardians may or may not be totally sentient, and not all of them are good parents, so it also delves a bit into Raised by Wolves.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! — Molly the Peanut Butter Monster was raised by Bob. She's currently staying with Jean, who considers herself Molly's mother because they share a little bit of genetic material.
  • Lindesfarne in Kevin & Kell, a hedgehog adopted by a rabbit.
    • And more recently, sheep couple Bruno and Corrie have adopted an infant chameleon named Carla.
  • The Last Human In A Crowded Galaxy: The titular last human, Sarya, is raised by her adoptive mother Shenya, a terrifying Insectoid Alien.
  • Neo Kosmos is about human kids raised from infancy by aliens in solitary confinement in a space station After the End.
  • In Ozy and Millie, Ozy (a fox) is the adopted son of Llewellyn (a dragon).
  • In this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal strip, a young man gets relationship advice from his dad. This is made complicated because his adoptive father is a giant talking wasp who is convinced that women only want to paralyze caterpillars and lay eggs in their moist bodies. Though the votee button reveals that he's actually right about his son's girlfriend.
    Interspecies adoption is always difficult.
  • Selkie is about an amphibious young girl, and the man who adopts her.
  • In Sheldon, Flaco the lizard became the adopted son of Arthur, a duck, after a mistaken egg-hatching.
  • Buwaro, Sakido, and Iratu, all demons, are adopted by the angel Darius in Slightly Damned.
  • Tessa (fox) of S.S.D.D was adopted by a family of rats. Which might be one of the reasons she always felt like an outcast.
  • Step Monster involves a human sister and brother left alone by their jailed dad and alcoholic mom who are at risk of getting split up by child services. Matilda, a fluffy dragonlike monster who has lived in the boy's closet scaring him for 5 years, reluctantly agrees to disguise herself and pretend to be the kids' aunt taking care of them because she would otherwise need to move out of the house too if the kids left.
  • Tamberlane: Belfry, a bat who might be part squirrel, was adopted by a badger and a deer, then she herself adopted that strange furless kit.
  • King Jahad from Tower of God adopts his daughters purely based on looks and ability, so there are some of his daughters who aren't Human.
  • In Urban Jungle sole human character Zack was quite literally Raised by Wolves, and his brother Chuck is a sheep.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, the inhabitants of Betel's Forest all believe that they are Betel's children, despite Betel being a manticore and the rest being a wide variety of different species.

    Web Original 
  • Quite a few characters from Cerberus Daily News. Thus includes (but is not limited to) a turian who was adopted by a human couple (Gahars Patnus), a human who was adopted by an asari couple (Some_Random_Merc/Johnny), a drell who adopted a human infant (Rohim), a human whose legal guardian and father-figure is a turian (Wildflower/Flower and Davril, respectively), a human who was raised by a quarian (Human Quarian/Kolya), and an elcor who adopted a human (Xuumo/"Slow and Steady").
  • From Fat, French and Fabulous, co-host Jessica, possibly. Whether she was Raised by Wolves or by humans à la superman is ambiguous.
  • The tiular character of The Last Human has been Happily Adopted by an insectoid alien known only as "Mother"
  • The Weather: Played for Laughs; A recurring plot in "Tornado" features a married couple finding an adopting... a speaking tornado. He gets his own room, goes to school, gets grounded...all while being a tornado that inadvertently trashes his room and gets in trouble for tossing other students in the air, with his parents struggling to discipline him. They eventually release him, realizing a tornado can't live a human life.
  • In Yandere High School, Taurtis adopts PufferFishPete's children because Pete thinks his children are weak.

    Real Life 
  • Real Life examples involving animals like dogs, cats, and rabbits are a mainstay of websites like Cute Overload and The Dodo.
  • It is especially prevalent with birds. When they hatch, they imprint upon the first live creature they see, and consider it to be their mother.
  • As domesticated chicken retain their mother instinct much better than domesticated ducks, it was common (before artificial incubators became common) for farmers to place duck eggs under a brooding hen to be raised by her.
  • This interspecies couple of a rooster and his mate, a female turkey, have adopted several children, including other turkeys and an emu.
  • This Irish cat and her yellow ducklings.
  • One of the strangest incidents of this kind occurred in Samburu, Kenya: a lioness adopted an oryx. The story really isn't as cute as it initially seems: it didn't live long, and the lioness, overcome with grief, decided to separate another oryx from its herd and adopt that one. It promptly died too. This went on almost a half-dozen times, with the lioness consistently preventing the baby oryxes from reuniting with their own kind.
  • A crow adopts a cat
  • In real life, baboons will kidnap puppies from mother dogs and raise them as guard dogs. The baboons even treat them like humans do!
  • Many people view their pets as adopted family members, especially animals such as dogs or cats. Some go as far as using babytalk and other baby-associated behavior with them.
  • There's a woman called Marina Chapman, now living in England, who claims she was kidnapped as a young child in Colombia, abandoned in the jungle, and taken in by a troop of capuchin monkeys with whom she lived for five years. She also claims that after being found by a hunter she was then sold to a brothel and Made a Slave by the mafia. Unsurprisingly, there's considerable disagreement over how much, if any, of her story is actually true.
  • A fairly common tactic for wildlife rescue organizations and zoos is to "foster" orphaned or abandoned wild animal babies to domesticated "parents". Numerous fox kits have been raised by dogs or cats for instance.
  • Spunky the Hawk, a red-tailed hawk from Vancouver who was raised by a family of bald eagles. No one knows how he got there, but most records make it clear that he's been there since he was a baby and his surrogate family ultimately ended up raising him as their own. A second red-tail was in the nest earlier, but it vanished later on, which has led people to speculate that the eagles originally ate the other hawk and were planning on doing so to Spunky until he begged for food. Basically, Spunky is an avian version of Heffer Wolfe.
  • Different human species must have done this on occasion at least between tribes. The most popular is between Homo neanderthalensis (sometimes considered a subspecies however), and Homo sapiens. We have DNA evidence as well to back up this claim, even though these are humans, so it's less interesting than the other examples.


Video Example(s):


Dinosaur Train - Buddy

In the theme song of "Dinosaur Train," Buddy hatches from an egg in the Pteranodon nest and wonders what he's doing there. But Mrs. Pteranodon assures him that even though all dinosaurs have different features, this is still his family and she's still his mom.

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Main / InterspeciesAdoption

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