In an era where humans are barely interacting with other humans, pictures of unlikely animal friendships are a welcome sight. At the Pairi Daiza zoo in Brugelette, Belgium, a romp of Asian small-clawed otters live in a river that flows through the zoo’s Indonesian Flower Temple, which happens to be the home of a family of three orangutans. Now, these neighbors are more than just casual acquaintances — they are full-fledged friends.
Pairi Daiza spokesperson Mathier Goedefroy told Lonely Planet, “The otters really enjoy getting out of the water on the orangutan island, to go and play with their big, furry friends. Especially baby Berani and daddy Ujian have developed a very special bond with their neighbours.”
Goedefroy explained that proper socialization is crucial to stimulating the minds of animals, and a big part of that is finding other species with whom they can interact. “An animal — and this is even more the case of orangutans, with whom humans share 97% of their DNA — must be entertained, occupied, challenged and kept busy mentally, emotionally and physically at all times,” he said.
This cross-species socialization occurs in addition to the zoo’s enrichment program for orangutans, where zookeepers keep them entertained with mind games, puzzles, and riddles.