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Unnatural Playmates: Tigers, Orangutans Become Buds

By: CBS News
By: CBS News

A pair of baby Sumatran tigers have become inseparable playmates with a set of young orangutan twins, an unthinkable match in their natural jungle habitat in Indonesia's tropical rainforests.

The friendship between five month old female baby primates Nia and Irma and one month-old cubs Dema and Manis, both members of highly endangered species, is blossoming at the Taman Safari Zoo's animal hospital.

After being abandoned by their mothers shortly after birth, the four now play fight, nipping and teasing each other.

When they are worn out, they cuddle up for a shared nap.

Zoo keepers said that there have been no clashes between the two sets of animals in the one month that they have been living together.

"Because the animals are still very young, we let them interact and socialise with one another. But when they grow up, they need to be trained for different behaviours, so we have to separate them then," said veterinarian Retno Sudarwati.

Both Indonesian tigers and orangutans are endangered species, threatened by rapidly shrinking habitats.

Conservationists estimate there are fewer than 700 Sumatran tigers still alive, while fewer than 60,000 orangutans remain in the wild.

Around 90 percent of the jungle has been destroyed by illegal logging, poaching and cut-and-burn farming practices on Borneo and Sumatra islands.


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