Aline Alexander Newman

Bogor, West Java, in Indonesia

Tigers don't normally snuggle with orangutans. The big cats are meat-eaters, after all. But when Demis and Manis the tiger cubs were rejected by their mother, zookeepers at Taman Safari Zoo thought they might like the company of two other orphan siblings: Nia and Irma the orangutans.

"The first time I put them together, they just played," says zookeeper Sri Suwarni. The four shared toys, wrestled, and took naps together. Then one morning, Nia and Irma began hugging Demis the tiger, and he lick-kissed them back! "That's when I knew they were true friends," Suwarni says.

As the tigers grew, their natural instincts started showing, so Suwarni moved them into a separate exhibit. Now two other apes Suwarni is raising have also made a new friend—a leopard cub.

Text by Aline Alexander Newman
National Geographic Kids magazine


Photograph courtesy Lesley Boggs-McNutt

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