In a unique demonstration of interspecies camaraderie, a Florida zoo has become home to an unlikely group of playmates: baby apes, tiger cubs, and a kangaroo joey.
Despite being different species, these little animals have forged bonds akin to siblings in a human family.
The tiny residents at Dade City’s Wild Things Zoo engage in playful activities like tug of war and vie for the affection of their caregiver, Kathy Stearns.
Kathy is a nurturing figure to the group, bottle-feeding them and looking after their needs, from playful moods to diaper changes.
Speaking to Barcroft TV, Kathy shared her insights on the dynamics of their interactions. “Their moments of joy, bouts of jealousy, and their capacity to love – it’s all a part of their development,” she said.
Interestingly, as Kathy provides all their necessities, including food, the animals don’t see the need to compete with each other for resources.
As a result, they grow up not learning hunting skills but focusing on developing social skills.
“One of the benefits of raising multiple species together is the opportunity for them to develop social skills.
These skills are necessary for their enrichment when they eventually move to the zoo,” Kathy explained.
However, as the tiger cubs grow, their playful antics may pose a danger due to their increased size and strength.
The group, which includes 8-month-old kangaroo Joey Whelan, gibbons Sarah and Jeremiah, and a few weeks-old tiger cubs, seem content in each other’s presence.
Kathy also shared her hopes for Sarah and Jeremiah’s future gibbons: “I hope as they mature, Sarah and Jeremiah will breed.
It’s essential to preserve their genetics in captivity considering the critical endangerment of gibbons and tigers,” she said.
This heartwarming tale of interspecies friendship unfolding in a zoo emphasizes the importance of social bonds in developing and conserving these beautiful creatures.
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