An odd and remarkable thing happened when a live goat was put into the enclosure of a Siberian tiger as part of its twice-a-week feeding of live animals at the Primorsky Safari Park in Russia: Amur the tiger became friends with its dinner.
In a story that has captivated Russia, Timur the goat and Amur the tiger have become fast friends, eating and playing together, chasing each other in the snow and even playfully head-butting each other, according to the Agence France-Presse.
Timur the goat has even taken over the shelter Amur the tiger usually sleeps in, and now Amur sleeps on the shelter's roof.
So enamored is the public about this unusual relationship that Primorsky Safari Park issues regular updates and plans to install webcams in the enclosure.
How did this unlikely friendship happen?
Simply stated, when the goat was released into the enclosure it did not show any fear. It didn't act like prey.
"No one had taught the goat to be afraid of tigers," the park stated.
So the adversaries became friends, instead. Zoo chief Dmitry Mezentsev called it nothing short of a miracle.
"This is a sign from above," he told AFP. "People, take a look at yourselves. There are wars everywhere — Ukraine, Syria — while such different animals can live together in peace."
The typical day starts with a morning walk around the enclosure with the goat following the tiger. On Wednesday, the goat poked the tiger with its horns.
"The tiger accepted the goat's challenge," the park reported. "He pushed his forehead against Timur's horns, the friends butted heads for five seconds without coming to blows, after which Amur calmly went to bask in the sun on the hill."
When it comes to feeding, Amur is now getting a diet of live rabbits "out of respect for goats," Mezentsev told AFP, and the tiger has attempted to teach the goat how to catch the prey.
And Timur has shown Amur how to lick a block of salt that it was given.
"We liked the story of the friendship between the tiger and the goat simply because a normal person cannot always live amid the lies, hatred and humiliation," a Russian online op-ed said in Gazeta.ru, according to AFP. "One would like to believe it is possible not to gobble up the weak but be friends with them."
But will Amur the tiger eventually gobble up Timur the goat?
Novosibirsk zoo director Rostislav Shilo told TASS there was an 80 to 85 percent chance of that the Siberian tiger would eventually eat the goat.
But Mezentsev isn't buying it.
“Timur is in no more danger than a human living next to another human," he told AFP.
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