Remember Gertjie the rhino and his sidekick Lammie? Sure you do. The unlikely duo melted our hearts last year when footage of the orphaned rhino playing with a lamb emerged from the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa. Everywhere the rhino went, the lamb was sure to go …

Fans of oddball animal "friendships" (we can get away with a bit of Pixar-like anthropomorphism here, right?) will be pleased to know that almost a year later, Gertjie and Lammie are still hanging out together. Much like other rhinos at the centre, Little G (yes, that's his nickname) was taken to Hoedspruit after his mother fell victim to poachers. At only three months old, he was unable to fend for himself and required round-the-clock care.

After a lot of growing up, he's now almost fully weaned, and some of the credit for his progress has to go to Lammie, a Thaba Manzi Pedi sheep (a type of indigenous breed) who played the part of surrogate mom. Staff at the centre rely a lot on surrogate mothers to provide companionship to young animals like Gertjie – and Lammie was just the, er, lamb for the job.

But finding the right surrogate for Gertjie took a bit of time (you can take a sheep to a rhino but you can’t make them get along). After a few failed matches, Lammie arrived at the centre and the two have been inseparable ever since. Although Lammie and Little G have a special bond, the maternal sheep took on another "adopted" rhino calf in November last year with the arrival of Matimba, a rhino with a story similar to Gertjie's.

Gertjie and Lammie, a year later:

Recognised for their cheetah breeding programme, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre focuses on the conservation of rare, vulnerable and endangered animals with an emphasis on treatment and rehabilitation. They currently care for five rhinos that have either suffered injuries or have been orphaned as result of poaching.

Top header image: Don Carlier, Flickr