is there something about humans that makes wild animals occasionally want to cuddle with us or get those sweet, sweet scritches? Do animals ever behave this way toward each other?

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Over the years, I’ve seen many videos of wild animals unexpectedly approaching humans with affectionate behavior. I’ve seen moray eels, fish in large aquariums, seals, whales, foxes, elephants, geese, deer, random birds, etc. approach people, not even to get help with our opposable thumbs for removing stuck nets or to help them with something, but just to cuddle with the person or to receive pets and scratches.

Is there something about humans that makes animals behave this way? Do animals ever approach other species with this kind of curious and affectionate behavior, even if infrequently?

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Many animals like to cuddle with friends.

There are plenty of videos of cats cuddling with each other, or with dogs. Some recent ones include dog and tiger, and mama chicken with kittens.

Many animals are also curious, and will come out to check out a new creature in their environment, as long as said creature does not appear dangerous to them.

Also, a lot of “wild” animals you see in the videos probably hang around humans a lot, and got used to them, or were simply trained to come and beg for food. You start by offering food, then add scratches while they eat the food, so they learn to enjoy scratches by themselves.

I also wonder if they look at our hands and think “those appendages would be great for scratching that itch I can’t reach”, and if there’s some way to test this bit of animal psychology.

It’s impossible to know what animals actually think but most communal animals have what appear to be similar drives as humans. They display forms of affection, curiosity, playfulness, and even protectiveness. There are videos showing inter species display of all the above. Some of the most noteworthy examples I can think of is the relationship between ravens and wolves, or the interaction between Ethiopian wolves and baboons.