The strange “friendship” between a Siberian tiger and a goat has captivated hearts and minds in Russia, although many experts are still confused as to why it happened. When caretakers at a Russian safari park sent a goat named Timur into the tiger enclosure, they expected it to quickly become a tasty dinner. Instead, the goat surprised park employees by not only befriending the resident tiger, named Amur, but surviving for over a month. Timur had reportedly even taken over the tiger’s old sleeping area.
Dmitry Mezentsev, director of the Primorsky Safari Park outside of Vladivostok, said the two animals have a beautiful friendship.
“Timur is in no more danger than a human living next to another human,” he told AFP.
You can see a video of the two below:
Mezentsev explained that the goat had never been exposed to a tiger—or any other predator—before, so it was unafraid of the big cat when it first entered the enclosure. Park employees said the tiger inspected the goat but seemingly did not recognize it as food, despite having been fed live prey before. Days after their introduction, park staff spotted the two animals walking together and even engaging in what appeared to be playtime. Since then the park made no other attempts to introduce goats as food, and kept the tiger on strictly rabbits instead.
The interactions between the two were markedly strange. Staff said that the tiger once attempted to teach Timur how to hunt rabbits, while the goat in turn offered its own salt lick to the predator. Recently the two animals have been found butting heads, a behavior common in goats but rarely seen in tigers.
“Yes, indeed, Amur and Timur sometimes play with one another. We have seen this many times,” Mezentsev commented in an update on the park’s website.
Observers speculate that the public’s fascination with the pair is largely due to what is essentially a heart-warming story in a year full of controversy for Russia.
“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,” stated an op-ed in the Russian online newspaper. Gazeta.ru. “One would like to believe it is possible not to gobble up the weak but be friends with them.”
However, experts question how long the friendship can last. Other zoo officials say it is very likely for Amur to eventually eat his roommate—when he gets hungry enough.