A dog has rescued a tiny baby kangaroo, gently carrying it to safety in its mouth after the joey's mother was killed by car.
Rex, the German short-haired pointer cross, was walking with his owner, Leonie Allan, near the Bells Beach in Torquay, on Australia's south coast, when they passed a dead kangaroo.
The marsupials are often killed while crossing busy roads, so Mrs Allan thought nothing of it. But Rex sensed something and when Mrs Allan went outside later in the day, she saw the ten-year-old family pet pointing and went to investigate.
"I was worried he'd found a snake and called him back, but when he returned he dropped the joey at my feet," Mrs Allan said.
"I was so surprised and delighted. Rex saved the day."
The dog had found the four-month-old joey in the pouch of its dead mother and gently prised it out, carrying it back to his owner.
"He obviously sensed the baby roo was still alive in the pouch and somehow had gently grabbed it by the neck, gently retrieved it and brought it to me."
The animals showed an instant fondness for each other, nuzzling and playing together, Mrs Allan said.
"The joey was snuggling up to him, jumping up to him and Rex was sniffing and licking him. It was quite cute."
Most joeys whose mothers are killed by cars die in the same collision. Those who survive the impact are rarely able to fend for themselves outside the pouch and succumb soon after.
But the prospects of this kangaroo - named Rex junior after its savior - are good. It will be hand-reared at a wildlife sanctuary until it is 18 months old, when it will be released into the wild.
Tehree Gordon, director of Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary, was amazed at the bond between the animals and said the fact Rex was so gentle with his younger namesake was proof that dogs - often criticized in Australia for killing native fauna - could live in harmony with local species if they were taught not to attack them.
"That Rex was so careful and knew to bring the baby to his owners, and that the joey was so relaxed and didn't see Rex as a predator, is quite remarkable," she said.