The friendship between different animal species is always adorable to watch. This time, an unlikely friendship between a family of orangutans and some otters at a Belgian zoo has captured the internet’s attention (and its heart).
The orangutans and otters first met when the staff at Pairi Daiza zoo in Brugelette ran the otters’ river through the orangutans’ enclosure. Ever since then, a wholesome and dare we say magical bond formed between the two species.
The otterly adorable photos speak for themselves, so scroll down, get ready to aww and have a wide smile on your faces, dear Pandas. Read on for Bored Panda’s interview with Mathieu Goedefroy, spokesman for Pairi Daiza zoo. And when you’re done enjoying this post, check out our previous article for some more unusual animal friendships.
Dad Ujian who is 24, mom Sari (15), and their son Berani (who just turned 4 years old) make up the orangutan family in the zoo. In one of the photos, Berani is playing hide-and-seek with his Asian small-clawed otter buddies.
Mathieu told Bored Panda that the orangutans and the otters mainly play chase-games and hide-and-seek. “The otters hide under large tree trunks or wooden constructions, then Berani, the baby orangutan, comes to look for them. Once and a while they pop out to tease him. It’s really amazing to see.”
According to Mathieu, the zoo invests a lot in “enrichment” of their animal enclosures. “This means that not only size but also the quality of life is very important. One of the ways to do that (besides hiding food, making puzzles, organizing mind games, putting some swings or new logs in there) is by placing animal species that can interact with each other in the same enclosure, or make them able to see each other.”
“Our gorillas live together with colobus monkeys, our penguins live with the seals, our kangaroos share an enclosure with pelicans, we have squirrels living with bats, pygmy hippos with pelicans, giraffes with ostriches, Asian elephants with Asian gazelles, zebras with buffalos… and so on,” he said.
Mathieu confirmed to Bored Panda that the zoo is currently closed to the public until it’s allowed to reopen; Belgium is currently facing a lockdown due to the coronavirus. “This does not stop us from giving our animals the very best care each day.”
“Two factors are very important for the well being of an animal in captivity: the size of his enclosure, but also the quality of his enclosure,” he told Caters News. “This means that an animal—and this is, even more, the case of orangutans, with whom humans share 97 percent of their DNA—must be entertained, occupied, challenged and kept busy mentally, emotionally and physically at all times.”
Mathieu pointed out that ever since 2017, when the orangutans moved from Germany to Pairi Daiza zoo, the otters just love interacting with their “big furry friends.”
“In particular, baby Berani and daddy Ujian have developed a very special bond with their neighbors,” Mathieu said. “It makes life more fun and interesting for both animal species, which makes it a very successful experiment.”