A different kind of friendship

Story highlights

  • Diana Bagnoli's portraits show the special bond between people and their animals
  • But these animals aren't your average pets: they include alpacas, pigs, rabbits and geese

(CNN)Fifteen years ago, Chiara Sgambati's family was given a goose egg.

They already had plenty of chickens at their farm in northern Italy, so instead of eating the egg, they put it under a hen and hatched it.
    Today, the goose roams freely in the garden and has become part of the family herself. Her name is Letizia.
    A couple of years ago, Letizia lost her longtime mate. But -- as seen in the ninth photo above -- she shares a strong connection with Sgambati's mother, Nirvana.
    Photographer Diana Bagnoli
    "They became very real friends," said photographer Diana Bagnoli, who interviewed Sgambati for her project "Wild Love." "Geese are not the most human-friendly animal that exists, but between them it's different, it's special."
    Bagnoli focused her lens on other families who have the same dynamic.
    "I wanted to explore a different kind of relationship," she said. "I had the feeling that I could investigate and discover something and show people how somebody can be really involved in a different kind of friendship."
    She looked around on Facebook for other subjects who lived near her in Turin, Italy. She also connected with animal sanctuaries such as Animal SOS.
    Ricky, the man holding the lamb in the first photo above, is an activist with Animal SOS. So is Lorena, who is seen with the pig in the fifth photo. They've dedicated their lives to rescuing animals that have been abused or abandoned -- or just destined for the slaughterhouse.

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    "It surprises me to see how much feeling and intimacy can be between people and animals and how many people there are that really care," Bagnoli said.
    Bagnoli said she has always loved animals. She grew up with two dogs and three cats, as well as rabbits and hamsters.
    In her portraits, she tried to portray all the animals in a human context.
    "What was important for me is that all the animals really live very happy lives and they live in open spaces," she said. "Well, maybe not the snake. I don't know."