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A collection of unusual animal friendships.

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Unlikely Animal Friendships

A collection of animal friendships

By: Prajin Uttam

Meet the Animals

          Who says that predators cannot be friends with their prey? Who says that different species of animals cannot do everything together? These are stories about strange animal friendships that you will love. Soon, you will know all about four friendships. These are: a Rhino and a Donkey; a Dog and an Orangutan; a Hippopotamus and a Tortoise; and strangest of all…

A Hamster and a Snake!


The Rhino and Some Donkeys

          Meet Manuela, the rhino and some extremely calm donkeys. These inseparable friends live side by side at the Tbilisi zoo in Georgia. Whatever attracted a rhino and three donkeys together still remains a mystery, but one thing is for sure: these four are truly inseparable.


          Manuela is an African Rhino. She lost her husband and became extremely grief stricken.  She became aggressive to other animals as well as her own caregivers who had been taking care of her for many, many years. Manuela refused to eat for four days and she almost died.

Look at Manuela The Rhino

Manuela as a baby rhino. The time between this picture and the friendship is unknown.

Hey, Donkeys!

          Before meeting Manuela, the donkeys were always getting laughed at or hurt by the sanctuary’s visitors. There were two parents (a mother and a father) and there was a colt (a child). Everyone laughed at them because they were donkeys.


How Did They Meet?

          The animal sanctuary that Manuela was in started to put various animals in the area with Manuela. The zookeepers’ goal for this was to find a species of animal that Manuela would get along with, so that her grief would not be as terrible, and she might have a chance of living a turtle's life span. The zoo tried taking many different animals to Manuela’s place in the sanctuary, but Manuela was not nice to any of those animals.


          Finally, it came down to the donkeys. The donkeys were the zoo's last hope, for the zoo had tried all of its other animals. When the donkeys were put into Manuela’s cage, everyone was expecting the worst, but to everyone's surprise, Manuela got along extremely well with the donkeys.


What Is Happening Now?

          Now, the donkeys and Manuela stay in the same area and they do almost everything together. They eat together, sleep together, and they play together. Whenever someone tries to make fun of a donkey, Manuela rushes to that donkey’s assistance. Now, isn’t that nice of her?


Who Is Next?

The one and only, dog and orangutan friendship- Suriya and Roscoe

The Dog and the Orangutan

         What is that? and Who is that? might have been questions running through Suriya the orangutan’s brain when he saw Roscoe the dog. I am hungry might have been something running through Roscoe the dog’s brain very often.


Meet Roscoe the Dog

          Roscoe the dog is a Blue Tick Hound. He was living off of plants that washed up on Myrtle Beach, California. He had no owners, no playmates and hardly anything to eat. He is extremely thin and almost died during one storm.

Suriya or Surya? Maybe Suria.

          Suriya is an orangutan. He lives in a sanctuary that is about a mile away from where Roscoe was. The sanctuary is also on Myrtle Beach. That sanctuary is called TIGERS Preservation Center. He was so depressed after losing his parents that he didn’t eat, drink or have his medical treatments. Suriya's name is both Suriya and Surya. It all depends on how you spell it. In fact, Suriya is also spelled like Suria and many other ways.

Suriya the orangutan feeding the pengiuns at TIGERS Preservation Center

How did they meet?

          One day, Suriya the Orangutan was going for his normal walk outside of the sanctuary, but this walk was not ordinary- Suriya started walking in the opposite direction than they usually went. They kept on walking and then they came to a dead end. That dead end was surrounded by bushes.

Eventually, Suriya found an entrance small enough for him. When he didn’t find what he was looking for, they started to walk home, but something wasn’t right…

That feeling was because a thin homeless dog named Roscoe was following them back to their sanctuary. Soon, Suriya spotted Roscoe and they immediately started playing. They have been inseparable ever since then.

What are they doing now?

           Now, they do absolutely everything together, including swimming! They go on walks very often and they sometimes go back to that dead end where Roscoe used to be.

Suriya and Roscoe love to swim, although Suriya is a little bit scared of the water and needs his friend's help.

Next up...

Owen and Mzee!

Who are they?

          “Awww” and, “Look at those two” are some of the words that tourists at the Haller Park say. These tourists are looking at the now 10 year old hippo named Owen, and the now 140 year old tortoise named Mzee. Now, let’s go to the past, ten years back in 2004 to hear about everything...

          Just before Christmas near the town of Malindi, rains like a hurricane washed a family of hippopotamuses down the Sabaki River and out to sea. The residents of the town tried to urge the family back and away from the beach. When the Tsunami hit Malindi, the sea turned angry, the sky clouded over and for a moment the hippos disappeared and were forgotten as all efforts went to rescuing the stranded fishermen.

          The next day only one hippo could be seen. It was the baby and he was stranded on the reef. Hundreds of people came to watch the efforts to rescue the hippo. It took ropes, boats, nets and cars.

Though the hippo was tired he was still fast and slippery. It took a long time to catch him, and when he was finally caught, the cheering of the crowd was heard from more than half a mile away.

          The crowd agreed to name him Owen in honor of the volunteer who tackled him to the ground. Exhausted, confused and frightened, Owen immediately ran to the safety of a giant tortoise when they released him in Haller Park.

Mzee, the 130 year old tortoise, just happened to be nearby and he was very surprised by Owen's odd behavior cowering behind him as a baby hippo does to its mother. Mzee quickly came to terms with his new friend and even returned signs of affection.

The Whole story

         Owen and Mzee continue to spend their days together in the pond, feeding and patrolling. Owen nudges Mzee to come for walks, and Mzee sometimes even follows Owen. Hundreds of people have watched this happen.

Owen will eventually be moved to a bigger pond in Haller Park where he can socialize with other hippos. The unusual relationship between this baby hippo and the ancient tortoise amazed people the world over and has featured in most countries on television and in newspapers.


Gohan and Aochan Time!

Would you...?

          Would you expect a snake to eat a hamster? “Tasty rice dish” is the meaning of Gohan the hamsters name. Next to him is “colorful man”. That is the meaning of Aochan the rat snake’s name.  Do you think that after all of these years, Aochan finally ate Gohan?  Aochan actually did not eat Gohan after these 11 years. What is the reason for that? These two are best friends for their lives.


          Gohan is a dwarf hamster (breed) who was meant to be food for an animal. His full first name is Gohan-Chan and he is purebred. Zookeepers at the Tokyo Mutsugoro Animal Kingdom in Tokyo, Japan tried to feed Gohan to Aochan the rat snake.

He's Gohan the Hamster


          Aochan the rat snake was not eating. One day, Aochan stopped eating his usual frozen food. He had no fellow snakes either. Feeding live animals to snakes is illegal in some countries, but not in Japan. The zoo decided that maybe, Aochan wanted something live to eat, so they decided to get a live mouse.

And they met...

          When the zookeepers got Gohan from the store, the store had run out of live mice, so they got Aochan a hamster instead. Their goal was to get Aochan to eat again. When they placed Gohan into the desert-like heated box that Aochan was in, the most extraordinary thing happened…

Aochan did not eat Gohan- he simply smelled the hamster and slithered away.


A video of Gohan and Aochan

sometimes sleeps next to Aochan, they sometimes eat the same food (vegetables). Aochan also lets Gohan try to dig down while being on top of him. They do not do very much, considering they are in a small area.

Now, Gohan

About The Zoos and Sancuarys

 Tblisi Zoo

          At the zoo you find an aquarium with more than 100 species of fish, reptiles insects, elephants, hippos,  rhinos, sheeps, and aardvarks. There also are carnivores like the lion, tiger and jaguar and some monkeys like the gibbon. The zoo also has a small amusement park on its ground.

          T.I.G.E.R.S stands for (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species) and is home to some of the world’s most famous animal actors, stars of stage and screen.  

T.I.G.E.R.S Sanctuary

 Haller Park

          Formerly known as Bamburi Nature Trail until 1999, Haller Park is a unique ecological restored place situated on the North Coast of Mombasa along the Mombasa Malindi road, next to the Bamburi Cement factory. Open to the public for the last 21 years, the Nature Park Sanctuary is home to a variety of plant and animal species that serve as attractions to local and international visitors from all walks of life.


          The Tokyo Mutsugoro Animal Kingdom is a wonderful zoo located by the three palace sanctuaries in Japan.


 Tokyo Mutsugoro Animal Kingdom