(TMU) — A zoo in Belgium has been uplifting spirits across the world after it shared some incredible photos of a burgeoning friendship between a family of orangutans and a clan of otters.
The adorable animals belong to the community at Pairi Daiza located in Brugelette, as part of a program that prioritizes the wellbeing of captive primates.
The creatures first began to interact after the zookeepers ran the otter’s river through the orangutan enclosure, resulting in the neighbors forging a “very special bond” with each other, Daily Mail reports.
— ดร.สิขเรศ ศิรากานต์ (@sikares) March 30, 2020
Since then, the family of orangutans—24-year-old Ujian, 15-year-old Sari, and their three-year-old son, Berani—has been enjoying the company of their little friends.
Pairi Daiza spokesman Mathieu Goedefroy said that the Asian small-clawed otters have also been having great fun emerging from the water to hang out and play with their big primate pals on the orangutan island.
Goedefroy explained that it’s all about helping to enrich the lives of both communities.
“Two factors are very important for the wellbeing of an animal in captivity: the size of his enclosure, but also the quality of his enclosure.
This means that an animal—and this is even more the case of orangutans, with whom humans share 97 per cent of their DNA—must be entertained, occupied, challenged and kept busy mentally, emotionally and physically at all times.”
this orangutan telling a thrilling story to an entranced audience of otters pic.twitter.com/ZUusnQfpnI
— iucounu (@iucounu) March 30, 2020
“For this, we have a very strong ‘enrichment’ program for our orangutans, where our keepers entertain them all day long with mind games, riddles, puzzles, and other stuff to train their intelligence.
One of the ‘enrichments’ is to have different animal species together, so they can interact.
That’s why we chose to let an otter family live in the river that runs through the orangutan territory.”
The orangutan family have been residents at Pairi Daiza since 2017.
“In particular, baby Berani and daddy Ujian have developed a very special bond with their neighbors.
It makes life more fun and interesting for both animal species, which makes it a very successful experiment.”
Orangutans have faced a growing threat in the past several years as their habitat in regions like Sumatra and Borneo, Indonesia, has been destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. The vegetable oil is extracted from the fruits and seeds of the oil palm, also known as the African palm, and is a common additive on supermarket shelves across the globe.
Roughly 66 million tons of palm oil are produced each year, driving a trend that has seen forests burned and land robbed to make room for plantations, contributing greatly to global deforestation and the displacement of endemic animal species like the orangutan as well as rural human populations across the globe.
Palm oil production has largely driven orangutans to the brink of extinction, with the species now classified as critically endangered. Bornean orangutan populations have fallen by more than half between 1999 and 2015.
Goedefroy told CNN that Pairi Daiza has raised enough funds to plant 11,000 trees in the orangutan forest habitat in Borneo.
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