Unlikely pals: Orangutan family befriends otter crew in adorable zoo photos

A family of orangutans took a particular fondness for a crew of otters at Belgian zoo Pairi Daiza. Pairi Daiza/Facebook

During the novel coronavirus outbreak, the world needs stories of unlikely friends.

Belgian zoo Pairi Daiza spread a bit of happiness during a hard time by sharing sweet photos of a family of orangutans befriending a crew of tiny otters.

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In the photos, an adult orangutan looks on at a group of otters. In the others, a baby orangutan reaches out to one, curious about its new friend.

“The photos are not fake,” the zoo writes in a Facebook post. “[They] live in perfect harmony, and this co-existence is a wonderful enrichment for both species.”
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Don’t let the otters’ size, compared to their bigger friends, fool you, the zoo writes.

“The Daiza visitors will tell you: The otter, even though they are far less imposing than their impressive neighbours, don’t let themselves get walked on, believe us.”

A baby orangutan reaches out to an otter at Pairi Daiza, a zoo in Belgium. Pairi Daiza/Facebook
A young orangutan looks underneath a platform where some otters are playing at Pairi Daiza, a zoo in Belgium. Pairi Daiza/Facebook

The orangutan family is made up of father Ujian, 24, mother Sara, 15, and their three-year-old son, Berani. The otters live in a river running through the primates’ enclosure.

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The primates “must be entertained, occupied, challenged and kept busy mentally, emotionally and physically at all times,” zoo spokesperson Mathieu Goedefroy told CNN.

“The otters really enjoy getting out of the water on the orangutan island to go and play with their big, furry friends,” he continued, adding that Ujian and his son have bonded closely with their furry pals.

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“It makes life more fun and interesting for both animal species, which makes it a very successful experiment.”

The orangutans, which share 97 per cent of their DNA with humans, arrived at the zoo in 2017.

Orangutans are currently critically endangered and under serious threat by palm oil plantations in their native homes of Borneo and Sumatra, according to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF).


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