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Pet Baby Wild Animal

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Baby wild things make good pets for a while / But in time must be let go with a smile.
— The aesop of the PBS The Berenstain Bears episode "The Baby Chipmunk"

A younger character, who is usually an Animal Lover, adopts an abandoned or orphaned baby wild animal and cares for it as a beloved pet.

However, when the animal reaches maturity, the character is advised and/or pressured by the older characters to release it back to the wild. With heartbroken reluctance, the young one complies and is profoundly upset as the animal leaves. If it happens early enough in an episode or arc, this may later result in an Androcles' Lion. The fact that a creature raised in captivity will lack the necessary skills to survive in the wild will very rarely be addressed. Nature is loving and nourishing, right?

In a variant ending, the animal comes back on its own, indicating it has no intention of leaving. In the face of this resistance, the adult's resolve is broken and the young character is allowed to keep the animal for good. If they aren't released, the hero may discover their pet has possessive parents.

Another variant ending has the animal dying, and we have a Very Special Episode about death. These critters are particularly at risk of Death by Newbery Medal and Shoot the Dog. If the Pet Baby Wild Animal is especially dangerous, the person bringing it home may be a Fluffy Tamer.

In reality, most wild animals have very specific needs that a well-meaning amateur caretaker will have no idea how to fulfill, or even know that they need to be fulfilled. Wild animals raised incorrectly can be left with permanent disabilities, if they survive at all. Wild animals can also die from stress, just from being handled by humans in the wrong way. Even if the wild animal survives, this means that said animal has just been trained to see humans as a source of food rather than danger, which can lead them to wandering into towns and/or not realizing that they should be hiding from hunters. There's a reason most states require people to become licensed wildlife rehabilitators before trying to raise orphaned or injured wildlife, and it's best for everyone, especially the wildlife, if would-be caregivers contact one of them instead of trying to do it themselves.

Compare the Egg MacGuffin for certain types of animal and Raised in Captivity for wild animals who are let free. See also Cub Cues Protective Parent for another type of plot that can develop when characters encounter baby wild animals. May in some cases be an example of Adoring the Pests or Training the Pet. Compare Unsuccessful Pet Adoption, which is always about non-wild pets.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Azumanga Daioh, Sakaki befriends a young Iriomote wildcat. In contrast to her abysmal luck with domesticated cats, the wildcat takes a liking to her and even fends off her feline antagonist Kamineko. Sakaki initially leaves him in the wild, as she knows that this species is endangered and should not be kept as a pet. However the wildcat (or "Yamamaya," later named Maya) later found its way from Okinawa to Japan to find her after its mother was hit by a car, and is staying with Chiyo-chan until Sakaki gets her own apartment.
  • In Bagi, the Monster of Mighty Nature, Bagi is adopted by a family who thinks she's just a large housecat (she is in fact a cougar with implanted human DNA).
  • The manga by Osamu Tezuka Black Jack treats this several times, and one of these stories is particularly cruel... a young and naïve scientist who's a friend of Dr. Black Jack uses a little deer in his experiments, raising his intelligence to almost human levels, and then adopts it as his family since both are orphans. The animal develops a morbose affection for his much that, when the man gets married and mentions it to his animal friend, he almost kills the wife. Not content with that, when Black Jack attempts to operate on the poor woman to save her, the deer appears and attacks them, so the scientist has to shoot the animal away. The deer walks away from them, never to be seen again, but at least the doc's spouse gets better.
  • In the beginning of Chi's Sweet Home, the title character is a stray cat separated from her mother and siblings. Not quite the same thing, but it took a while to get used to the people who eventually found her (who don't know her story).
  • In Genzo, a feudal lord decides to nurse and raise a young Okigondo (basically a now-extinct Wholphin), which proves extremely useful later for his daughter.
  • Twice Chouhi has had problems with this in Koihime†Musou. She thought a random bear and a random boar were grown up versions of pets she had as a kid. This goes well until she realizes that, no, they aren't. Which immediately cues a Chase Scene.
  • This is Arf's backstory in Lyrical Nanoha, having been a wolf cub that was saved by Fate after being abandoned by her pack (though she's a familiar rather than a pet). As a result, she is unquestionably loyal to Fate despite the open-ended nature of their contract meaning that she has zero obligation to serve her.
  • Aversion: Fushigi no Umi no Nadia takes place over less than a year in the life of the characters; we never actually see Nadia's pet lion cub growing up.
  • In One Piece, the heroes meet a whale named Laboon who was adopted as a baby by a pirate crew. When the crew was about to enter the Grand Line, an area where the young whale couldn't follow them (and would be too dangerous even if it could), the crew left Laboon behind at the cape near the entrance promising to return. After 50 years of waiting, Laboon's caretaker informed the whale that the crew was seen trying to flee the Grand Line and had abandoned him, which devastated the creature.
    • It turns out the crew never intended to leave Laboon for so long but ended up having really bad luck. A large portion of the crew became ill and separated to prevent more from becoming sick (which was what was reported as them fleeing) and the rest were sucked into a Bermuda Triangle-like place and killed. However, Brook, whose powers allowed him to come back to life and who is currently traveling with the Straw Hat crew and plans to reunite with the whale and give it the dead crew's final message: a recording of Laboon's favorite song played by the last members as they died.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • Done in Pokémon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, of all places, with May and Manaphy. Also occurred a couple of times in the series, in which a character nurses an injured wild Pokemon back to health and then sets them free.
    • Pokémon: The Original Series:
      • This is a major plot point in a multi-part special. In the special, a young Character of the Day has befriended a baby Lugia (making Lugia one of the few Legendary Pokémon to have a confirmed breeding population in the wild (Though, you cannot breed Lugia in the games themselves) and has named him "Silver". However, Team Rocket uses the boy's friendship with Silver to find the adult Lugia and turn it "evil" by enraging it so they can use it for their own evil plans. Because it's too risky for them to spend time together, the boy and Silver are forced to part ways with one another.
      • In another episode one of the many Nurse Joys (and the only one with a unique appearance thanks to her deep tan) rescued a baby Magikarp that was stranded on the beach when she was a little girl. Years later, the same Magikarp, which had become a rather huge specimen, rescued her when she fell overboard from a ship. In the present, they remain good friends. When Team Rocket attacks, the Magikarp's desire to protect Nurse Joy prompts its evolution into Gyarados. After a tense moment, Gyarados shows that it's just as affectionate as ever.
      • In "Wings N' Things", a character named Zachary Evans raised a Yanma who was injured during a storm. Things go well until it started breaking windows, causing the townspeople ans his dad to get mad, so he decided to let it go. But that changed when Team Rocket tried to use it destroy the glass windows with the Pokémon. The boy eventually was able to keep the Pokémon and trained it to stop breaking windows.
  • Jinpei in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman is known for his affinity to animals, but the example most specific to this trope is in a Gatchaman II episode where he tries to adopt an orphaned baby puma. Not only does he have to set it free, he's also struck with the realization that for him, childhood's over. (To be fair, though, he is 12 years old by this point)
  • Sket Dance features an episode where the group is asked by Saaya to take care of an injured baby owl, of all things. After they nurse it back to health, the team try to set it free. The bird flies off, but eventually comes back, and becomes the Sket Dan's Team Pet.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • In the comic book series Bone, a couple of the Bones adopt an orphaned rat creature and head out to return him to the other rat creatures. This gets pretty weird because the rat creatures are serving the Big Bad. There's also a weird scene where two older rat creatures are conversing with the Bones and the Bones are acting all 'accepting of the foreign culture' and completely ignoring that the rat creatures actually don't like the way they are living, because the Big Bad is a nasty dictator with magical powers.
  • There is an ElfQuest short story in which the Wolfrider elves prevent a human from killing a wolf. The human tells them that he and his wife had raised the animal from a cub, only for it to kill their infant son. The Wolfriders, who are naturally familiar with wolf behavior, tell the man that the wolf was only obeying its instincts, and that he should not have let his son play with it unsupervised. The Wolfriders adopt the animal, but it can't adapt to life in the wild or integrate with their wolfpack. Eventually it runs back to its former master, and the elves can only speculate as to whether the human will kill it or give it a second chance. The story is apparently intended as a warning to fans about the dangers of owning a real wolf or wolf/dog hybrid.
  • In Noob, a short story has Sparadrap acquire a baby cochoboule as a pet. In the Fictional Video Game in which the the story is set, adult cochoboules are Mooks and summon creatures. This is taken to its logical conclusion when Sparadrap, who has trouble understanding that cute-looking Mooks can't become pets, gives a name to a half-grown cochoboule Mook.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Amadeus Cho once adopted a Coyote cub he named Cerberus (Kirby for short) while on the run. He eventually had to give it up when they separated and it mated, forgetting about him entirely.

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes had a story arc in which Calvin found and brought home a baby raccoon. It was already severely injured when he found it, and died overnight. Besides showing the rarer compassionate side of Calvin, the story also explained that death was sometimes inevitable, and the best you could do was make the victim comfortable.

    Fan Works 
  • The Discworld fiction The Discworld Tarot illustrates Strength with the tale of how an Assassins' Guild School teacher adopts an orphaned lion cub and it becomes, well, a house-cat for Assassins. Until Lord Downey puts his foot down and insists it be returned to the Zoo where it belongs.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tod is this in The Fox and the Hound, when Widow Tweed takes him in after his mother is shot.
  • In The Lion King (1994), this is how Timon and Pumbaa essentially take on Simba at first. With the twist, of course, that Timon and Pumbaa are wild animals too.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Born Free is Based on a True Story about the difficulty of reintroducing a lion raised in captivity to the wild. In the beginning, it's actually three lion cubs that the Adamsons are caring for, but two of them are sent to a zoo while they're still fairly young, as the full trio proves to be too much for the Adamsons to handle.
  • The movie Cheetah is about two American teenagers who find an orphaned cheetah cub while vacationing in Kenya. When they have to return to the U.S., they plan to release her back into the wild. Unlike most examples, they do acknowledge the difficulties involved and get advice from a game warden on how to teach their cheetah how to hunt for herself and survive in the wild.
  • Duma: Loosely Based on a True Story, Xan (a boy from South Africa) adopts a cheetah cub who wandered out of a protected reserve when his mother was killed by lions. When the cheetah (named Duma, which is the Swahili word for his species) comes of age, Xan sets out to take him back to the wild, as his dad had planned to do before dying from illness.
  • Fly Away Home is about a girl who rescues a nest of goslings to adulthood, and then must teach them how to fly and then migrate for the winter. Here, the girl enjoys a compromise, the birds are returned to the wild, but her farm is their regular migration destination in the spring. (This was Very Loosely Based on a True Story — a wildlife rescue group were experimenting with geese (which are in no way endangered) as a way for finding ways to reintroduce Whooping cranes, raised in captivity, to the wild — but the part about them being a teenager's pets is fiction.)
  • The Next Karate Kid: Angel the hawk. A slightly more realistic example than most in that Julie never intended to keep her long-term and only wanted to help heal her, plus she also freaks out over anyone but Julie coming anywhere near her. Though the fact a fully-grown wild hawk would perch on a falconer's glove at all puts in this territory.
  • Two Brothers has each of the two tiger cub brothers being raised as pets. One of them is kept as the pet of a child, however after it attacks the family dog, it is sold to prince that trains it to be a fighting tiger. The other is kept by a hunter, but is confiscated when he is arrested and sold to a circus. When both tigers escape, the hunter explains to the child that tigers raised in captivity tend to become man eaters if they escape to the wild, because they never learn how to hunt.

  • In a story from The Berenstain Bears, Sister Bear found and adopted a baby chipmunk. Sure enough, it's cute at first, but soon grows to be a problem, getting all over the house and chewing stuff up. This was also adapted as an installment for the PBS Kids television series.
  • Jean Auel's second Earth's Children book, The Valley of Horses,
    • Alya does this twice. In the first instance she raises a foal (whose mother she killed and crafted materials from) and later released it to be with other horses. Said horse later returned to her and gave birth to a foal. The second instance is when she adopted an injured cave lion cub which she incidentally named "Baby". After it left her to be with other lions, it proceeded to maul a man who would later be her husband. Oh yes, Ayla's a cavewoman and she's supposed to be the first person to domesticate wild animals.
    • She gets a wolf later on too, making her the first person to domesticate horses, cats, and dogs.
  • InCryptid: While she's at college, Alice finds a baby hodag rooting through the trash, which she catches and takes back to her dorm room. Fortunately, her roommate is already in the know about the cryptid world, though the hodag, who Alice names Wilbur, is a handful and they're relieved when her grandfather comes to take him back to the wild.
  • Inverted in The Jungle Book: There was once this wolfpack who adopted a human cub and successfully raised him. Though when he reached puberty they had to let him go, so he could find a mate.
    • Played straight in the separate story, "Rikki Tikki Tavi," where a human family takes in a lost mongoose. The mongoose stays at their home and becomes their defender from the murderous snakes lurking about.
  • In a Mrs Pepperpot story, Mrs Pepperpot finds an injured adolescent crow and keeps it until it heals. However, she tries to keep it for a while afterward, which causes it to antagonize her when she shrinks.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • In book three of Protector of the Small, Kel kills a centaur who had been keeping a kidnapped baby griffin. Griffin parents kill people who handle their young, so she's stuck caring for him until they can be found and the situation explained. Even though adult griffins are fairly intelligent, the baby acts much more like a wild animal than most uses of this trope, unconcerned about Kel's trials and feelings. He is far from cute, putting scars on each of her fingers and breaking a few, gouging her head and back, refusing to be confined, vomiting and pooping on page, attacking her pets... Caring for him is a duty, and that's how she treats it. She doesn't name him and tries not to get attached, understanding that he's a little monster and knowing how this will end, but is still sad for a bit when his parents come to reclaim him. The baby griffin doesn't look back, and before long Kel's sadness is simple relief.
    • Played completely straight by the same author in The Numair Chronicles, with Preet - another birdlike baby immortal - being very easy to keep, loving Arram immediately, intelligent enough to understand speech but never growing bored and causing trouble, never causing a mess, liking all the same people Arram likes... The only difficulty is that she doesn't like to be separated from him, but she forgives this when he apologizes. She's going to have to go back to her parents eventually, but until then she is only shown to be a joy in her keeper's life.
    • In The Immortals, Daine adopts a newborn dragon who's much more on the "baby" side than the "wild animal" one, though other characters consistently think of her as an animal. Dragons being fully sapient, "Kitten" quickly has a good grasp of what people are saying and is closer to being like Preet than to being like the baby griffin, but she's still willful and rambunctious at times, and her desire to help is sometimes inconvenient or ineffectual. Due to dragons' Proportional Aging, she'll be an infant for thirty years.
  • The titular raccoon in Sterling North's Newbery Medal-winning young adult novel Rascal and the Disney live-action adaptation.
  • The book (and film) Ring Of Bright Water tell the true story of how a man adopted and raised a baby otter.
  • In Stone of Tears, Richard adopts Gratch, a baby gar (winged man-eating monster) after Richard kills its mother (who, of course, was trying to eat him), and eventually sends it out into the wild before he can be discovered and killed. Gratch returns in the later books to help out at various times. Goodkind later retconned this by explaining that gars were not actually wild animals: they were built from scratch to imprint on wizards with the right kind of magic and become extremely loyal to them.
  • In The Three Happy Lions, a woman keeps a lion cub named Francois as a pet but when he grows up and can't sleep on her bed anymore, she gives him away.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: The Stark family stumbles upon a dead Direwolf and her orphaned pups. The pups are given to the family's children to raise as pets.
  • When Jean first visits Joe's Australian homestead in A Town Like Alice, a friendly young wallaby is hanging around outside. Joe explains that when he and his friends went out to get wallaby skins for Jean's new shoe business, they accidentally shot a doe with a joey. He didn't want to leave the joey alone and defenseless, so he brought it home. He feeds it bread and milk and it likes to play with the household puppies. Joe thinks the wallaby will probably head off into the bush of its own accord when it gets older.
  • In The One and Only Ivan, Ivan the gorilla's family was killed by Evil Poachers when he was very young, and he was put in a crate with his twin sister (who did not survive) and shipped across the ocean. There he was purchased by Mac and raised almost like a human in order to get attention and bring in opportunities to make money - Mac dressed him in clothing, took him out driving, fed him human foods, and put him, in pajamas, in a human bed. Ivan tried to make the best of it but especially as he became older, larger, and harder to control he was quite destructive and eventually was confined to a cage in Mac's mall.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Some Truth in Television examples have appeared on various Animal Planet shows, often accompanied by cautionary messages that wildlife rehabilitation should be left to professionals. In one noteworthy case involving a raccoon, the warning was probably unnecessary, as the hand-reared raccoon had trashed most of its rescuer's house and refused to stay away even after being relocated to the nearby woods.
  • In the The Dick Van Dyke Show episode "Never Love a Duck" Rob brings home two ducklings which were used as props for the week's Alan Brady Show episode. Richie takes care of them, but one dies and the other is relased into the wilds of New Rochelle NY.
  • On Friends, Ross had a pet monkey named Marcel for most of a season until Marcel reached adolescence and started humping everything in sight.
    Rachel: My Curious George doll is no longer curious!
  • On The Joy of Painting, Bob Ross would occasionally show us videos of him interacting with (and caring for) wild animals, or even bringing them into the studio at the start of the episode. The most memorable of these featured animals is "Peapod, the pocket squirrel".
  • In Lassie, the title dog adopted a raccoon, which was later killed by a speeding car. Everyone learned an important lesson about careful driving.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks and the Madison High crowd adopt an injured sparrow in "Capistrano's Revenge".
  • Primeval
    • Rex (also doubling as the best excuse for a former S-Clubber in her knickers ever).
    • Happens again in series two. This time it's with a sabre-toothed cat raised by a theme park worker. It then mauls her to death.
    • In Season 3 Connor and Abby adopt two Diictodons.
  • Done in the short-lived American sci-fi show Surface - a teenage boy keeps a violent baby green lizard named Nim, and after Nim knocks a policeman unconscious somehow, the boy racks up charges for assault, grand theft auto and driving under the age limit in an attempt to save Nim from the police - he eventually ends up freeing Nim into the sea, but still has to do community service.
  • Game of Thrones: Since the series is based on "A Song of Ice and Fire" (mentioned above in Literature), it naturally starts out with the adoption of the Stark family Direwolf pups.

    Video Games 
  • Apex Legends: Bloodhound brings his pet raven to the arena, while Vantage brings her pet bat.
  • Dragon Quest:
    • The hero and his future wife in Dragon Quest V adopt a "kitty" that turns out to be a baby Great Sabrecat. After capturing the hero and another friend later, The Dragon deliberately forces it back to the wild to try and turn it feral, but years later it recognizes the hero's childhood friend's ribbon and rejoins the party, turning out to be extremely useful.
    • Buddy in Dragon Quest VII adopts two monsters in Past Nottagen — first a Rockbomb that blew itself up to save him from a vine, then afterwards a friendly Worm of Woe named Wiggles, who ends up either being killed by the hero or sacrificing itself to save the town from other monsters depending on how you respond to the townspeople that want it gone.
  • Basically the point of Hey You, Pikachu!, in which the player raises and bonds with a wild Pikachu. It even includes a scene where the player must release Pikachu back into the wild...and Pikachu returns and stays with the player forever.
  • Super Pitfall: While its age is never brought up, it's worth mentioning that one of Harry's goals is to rescue his pet lion Quickclaw.
  • One event chain in Stellaris has a juvenile space amoeba whose parents are nowhere to be seen deciding to follow a Science Ship around. The lead scientists requests that the juvenile be allowed to follow them, clearly taken in with the cute space creature. you can allow it, gaining it as a ship. If this small juvenile lives for 100 year, it grows up into a force to be reckoned with, still as loyal to your empire as ever. If it dies, the scientist whom adopted it will gain the Substance Abuser trait.
  • While she's fully grown by the timeframe of the game, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla has Synin, the raven companion of the main protagonist, who they are implied to have raised since she was a chick. There's also an "injured dog" that turns out to be a tamed wolf who has been abandoned that the player takes in, and a missable side quest involves saving an elderly woman's "dog" from a house fire. The dog is actually a tame fox, who the protagonist takes in after the woman dies of smoke inhalation. The wolf and fox aren't visibly juveniles by the time they're adopted by the Vikings of Ravensthorpe, but to be tamed into being dog-like pets, they almost had to have been raised from birth by humans.
  • In Yakuza 0, while reprimanding Majima with brute force about his refusal to kill his target Makoto Makimura, Sagawa talks about a time in his childhood when he took in an injured wild bird and kept it company in secret for several days, despite his parents forbidding him from having pets of his own, feeding it and even naming it "Mametaro". Unfortunately, his parents later found out, and they punished him by feeding it to the family cat. The whole point of this story is to tell Majima that when he gets and agrees to an order, he carries out the order, he doesn't defy his superiors and walk back on it just because he started to get all sentimental for his target.
  • In Utawarerumono, the little girl Aruruu raises what is essentially a tiger god from a cub. The characters are very quick to point out the dangers, especially since they only barely managed to kill the cub's parent, after it had terrorized numerous villages. Nonetheless, Aruruu is permitted to keep the cub. It does eventually grow up and is perfectly tame around Aruruu and anyone she likes, but she also uses it as a mount in battle and it has eaten people on her command.

    Visual Novels 
  • This is Botan's origin story in CLANNAD: Kyou found the baby boar on its own in a field and took it in. Botan seems to have adapted perfectly to domestic life (though he has a habit of following Kyou to school), and even as an adult boar five years later is extremely well-behaved (enough that preschoolers are trusted to play with him).
  • In Fate/stay night, during the Fate route Saber becomes rather taken with a lion plushie. She explains that this is because it reminded her of a lion cub she once looked after.
  • In the Backstory of Kanon, Yuuichi secretly kept an injured fox, which Akiko found out about but never mentioned. When he had to go back home, he was forced to abandon the fox. Seven years later, the town's miracles have caused the fox to return as the animal-like human Makoto, who wants revenge or at least answers as to why she was abandoned. However, the price of the wish, among other things, was Easy Amnesia, so she has no idea who she is or why she's so angry at him.

  • In Tales of the Questor, Nessie, a raccoonan girl with the power to control animals among other abilities, summons a small bog dragon to fetch her something. While she lets him go, the animal makes such a fuss about being left behind that she adopts him and calls him Oggy. Furthermore, when she goes off to mage school and tries to let Oggy go again, he makes another fuss that makes him her constant companion from then on.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • Cubbi adopted an orphaned wolf cub whom he named Loopy in the Adventures of the Gummi Bears episode, "Loopy, Go Home". In the end of the episode, after Loopy is all grown up, Cubbi releases Loopy back in the wild after he saves Cubbi and Gruffi from a poacher.
  • Adventure Time
  • Parodied on Clone High. Ghandi and Gengis Khan kidnap rival school GESH (Genetically Engineered Superhuman High)'s mascot as a sports prank, only to discover it's not a kid in a costume, but a genetically engineered creature with a zipper. After playing with Geshy in a "best friends" montage, Ghandi realizes he should release Geshy into the wild. Geshy's sad to leave, but goes, only to prove an exceptionally brutal — and hungry — predator. Cue Ghandi's Not-So-Innocent Whistle as he leaves.
  • In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh 2 and Numbuh 3 adopted a wild baby skunk in "Operation: C.A.M.P." Later, he was introduced into KND as Numbuh 6. Who then got the We Can Rebuild Him treatment.
  • At one point in Defenders of the Earth, Jedda mentions that she raised her panther, Kisa, from a cub.
  • In Dora the Explorer, Diego adopts a baby jaguar who later becomes a main character.
  • In one episode of Dragon Tales, Emmy adopts a wild bird from Dragonland and is reluctant to return it to the wild, though she relents when they find the parents.
  • In "The Egg" on Goldie & Bear, Bear wants to keep the dragon which hatches from the egg that he and Goldie found and it's not surprising, given its general behavior. Eventually, Goldie convinces him that returning the dragon to his mother is for the best and they're rewarded with a dragon ride.
  • In The Maxx, a defining part of Julie Winter's childhood is when she takes in a baby rabbit with an injured leg, but can't do anything but listen to the incessant noises it makes as it slowly dies. Eventually, her mother kills it with a shovel. This event comes back to haunt her later, especially considering the prominence of Julie's Mental World in the series.
  • My Little Pony:
    • My Little Pony 'n Friends: In "Pony Puppy" the ponies look after a gigantic puppy that was separated from her friends. While Dinah looks like a perfectly normal domestic dog outside of her size, she's a fairly straight example otherwise. The ponies find her wandering the woods after being separated from her pack, and the episode ends with her being returned to the wild to be with her kind.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • Pinkie Pie owns a pet alligator named Gummy.
      • Fluttershy has a wildly disparate horde of Woodland Creatures living on her property, although it's not clear whether they're pets, roommates or squatters; she loves them all nonetheless. However, this is a subversion, as ponies in this incarnation of the franchise are sort of stewards of nature, with the care of wildlife falling under their domain. In other words, she's essentially taken this up as an occupation, and a valid one at that.
      • Spike gets a pet phoenix hatchling after the events of "Dragon Quest", though in "Just for Sidekicks" it's revealed in a Photo Montage that he returned the little guy to the wild.
  • The Old Woman Who Raised a Bear as Her Son is a Canadian special based on a traditional Inuit folktale about a polar bear cub who was adopted by an old woman. The bear eventually grows into a large adult that attracts the enimity of a hunter, but when the hunter goes after the bear, but is killed another wild bear he attacked by mistake. Although she knows the truth, the Old Woman sends the bear away for his own safety, but not before a young boy marks the bear with black markings to remind that him he is still loved.
  • "Baby Shark Blues" from Shelldon is about Shelldon and his friends adopting an orphaned baby shark after a seaquake.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, SpongeBob and Patrick raise a baby scallop named Junior until he grows up.
  • In one episode of Strawberry Shortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures, Orange Blossom takes a little fish home, which turns out to be a tadpole. Despite her friends' insistence that Tad, now a frog, should go back into the wild where he belongs, Orange does her best to take care of him. In the end, she does finally let him go, but in a subversion of the usual heartfelt goodbye scene, the minute she lets Tad off his leash, he takes off like a shot without even a second glance.
  • Teen Titans (2003) has Beast Boy (and effectively Starfire) taking in one of Killer Moth's larvae, who after a rampage returns to "normal" and, due to the inherent outlandishness of the show, is kept as a pet.

    Real Life 
  • As mentioned under Films, Born Free is Based on a True Story about Joy and George Adamson, who raised a lioness, Elsa, from a cub and then successfully (albeit with much difficulty) trained her to live in the wild. The events are chronicled in Joy's memoir, also entitled Born Free.
    • In 1969, Anthony "Ace" Bourke and John Rendall purchased a lion cub (whom they named Christian) from Harrods on a whim, and raised him as their own. As he grew bigger, they realized they wouldn't be able to keep him, so they sent him to Korra National Reservenote , Kenya, where the aforementioned Adamsons helped him transition to life in the wild. John and Ace were told when they went to visit Christian the next year that he might not remember them; on the contrary, he was very happy to see them again. (In 2009, the video of their reunion was uploaded to YouTube, and quickly went viral.)
    • America has the lion Zamba, who was raised by animal behaviourist Ralph Helfer, and the lioness Little Tyke, who was raised by Georges and Margaret Westbeau, and amazingly became a vegetarian.
  • A few of the First Nations of North America were reported to raise skunks from infancy and keep them as pets for children, though true domestication of skunks didn't start until the 1950s.
  • Let's just say that anything that happens to be alive (and maybe even not alive, think "pet rocks") will have themselves taken care of by humans from birth at some point. This includes more mundane wild animals (raccoons, possums, owls, turtles, etc.) to more exotic types like lions, bears, crocodiles, and lemurs, and even the outright bizarre like deepwater fish, blind cave animals, and even single-celled organisms.
  • Cheetahs are surprisingly easy to tame, but seldom breed in captivity. This resulted in severe decline in cheetah populations a couple of centuries ago, when it became fashionable to train them as hunting animals in the Middle East (and even in India, during the Mughal era).
  • Baby chimps were once considered fashionable pets and were sometimes adopted as children. One of the most iconic adopted chimps was Lucy Temerlin, who became famous for serving tea to guests and drinking straight gin. Once chimps reach sexual maturity, however, they are nearly impossible to handle as pets and it can be extremely difficult to find and transport them to someone able to properly care for them and/or teach them everything they would need to know to return to the wild. A human-raised chimp may find itself in a cage for the rest of its life.
  • While the details are lost to prehistory, this is a possible scenario for how wolves and wildcats began to be domesticated into modern pet dogs and cats.
  • Baby birds taken in by humans often suffer lifelong leg problems from not being raised in a confined space like a nest. They also generally suffer from malnutrition from being fed a diet completely wrong for their species, resulting in brittle or distorted bones, misaligned beaks, obesity, or other significant lifelong health problems, leading to short, unhappy lives.
  • People who take in wild animals hoping to make this trope a reality rarely know how to properly care for them. Cow's milk or puppy milk replacer is rarely adequate nutrition. Carnivores are often given muscle tissue only, which is high in phosphorus and results in leaching of calcium from the bones, instead of the organs and marrow that are needed to balance their diet. Many species can die of stress when they are handled, or even looked at, too often or in the wrong way. Rabbits can break their own back in a panic attack. In Real Life, trying to raise a wild animal usually results in death or permanent disability.
  • People sometimes assume a young wild animal is an orphan when it actually isn't.
    • A mother rabbit may only come nurse them once or twice a day, usually at dawn or dusk.
    • Fawns are usually left hidden by their camouflage while mom is browsing for plants to turn into milk, far enough away to not lure predators too close to their fawn.
    • If a baby bird falls out of a nest, their parents are usually close by, waiting for the scary humans to go away so they can feed their baby. Putting them back in the nest is their best chance of survival; if the nest fell, put it up as close to its original position as possible.
    • Some wild animals are also ready to be on their own much sooner than people think; juvenile rabbits are often taken away from their homes because people think they're too small to be on their own and surely they must need to be bottle-fed, when they're actually fully developed and have long since left the nest behind. A bird fluttering on the ground near a nest may be a fledgeling learning how to fly; if they're put back in the nest, they'll end up out of it again not because they were kicked out for smelling like a human, but because it's time for them to be leaving the nest.


Video Example(s):


Brown Eyes

In "The Baby Chipmunk" from the PBSKids version of "The Berenstain Bears," Sister Bear finds a baby chipmunk whose mother is missing outside. She pleads to bring it inside and gives it the name Brown Eyes. But when the chipmunk grows and starts doing things that chipmunks do, Sister Bear is forced to admit that it would be better off outside.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / PetBabyWildAnimal

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