Animal friendships at Zoo Berlin
To celebrate the 40th birthday of beloved cartoon cat Garfield, who lives in not-so-perfect harmony with dog Odie and human Jon, we are dedicating this blog entry to the curious cohabitations and fascinating friendships that have arisen over the years among animals at Zoo Berlin.
In September 1968, when the tropical bear habitat opened at Zoo Berlin, one of its first occupants was female Asian black bear Mäuschen. She lived here at the Zoo until 2006 – reaching a grand old age of almost 43 and setting a record as the oldest Asian black bear in the world. She also became famous for her close friendship with a black cat called Muschi, who suddenly appeared in Mäuschen’s outdoor enclosure one day and stayed on as a permanent house guest. During the daily feeding sessions, visitors would delight in watching Muschi sit calmly by her much larger companion, scoffing the bear’s tasty treats scot-free. The elderly puss continues to live in and around Zoo Berlin’s bear habitats to this day and is still in good health.
Maybe Garfield could follow the example of this peaceful pair? When he’s not eating or sleeping, the cantankerous cat’s favourite thing to do is play tricks on his canine chum Odie.
Health and beauty for hippos
In their natural habitat, hippopotamuses get to enjoy regular spa treatments from the various species of fish who share their waters. The pampered pachyderms live in a symbiotic relationship with fish who cleanse their skin from top to toe. Different types of fish seem to specialise in different body parts. Most of the labour is performed by redeye labeos, who give the hippos a full-body scrub with the tubercles in their large mouths, nibbling off algae, parasites, and flakes of dead skin. Barbels take care of the pedicure, cichlids deal with the bristles on the tail, and doctor fish clean wounds. The hippos at Zoo Berlin share their home with grass carp, who hoover up the algae in the tank, and with various species of duck. Isn’t it nice when housemates get along this well?
Bosom buddy with a red breast
For several weeks now, female panda Meng Meng has had regular visits from a chirpy chappie – an adorable little robin. It usually drops in when she’s receiving a fresh delivery of bamboo, and sometimes even follows her indoors. We don’t know if the two came together by chance or design, but from where we’re standing this looks like the start of a beautiful friendship!
Oldies but besties
Recently, Przewalski’s horse Vita and Shetland pony Vroni moved over to “Zoo peninsula” to enjoy their retirement together. When Vita’s friend Wanda died in May, the 29-year-old mare was left all alone. Keepers quickly took the decision to introduce her to 22-year-old female Shetland pony Vroni. Since then the two elderly ladies, both of whom were born right here in Berlin, have formed a close bond.
An interspecies commune
Vita and Vroni aren’t the only mixed-species housemates in “Zoo peninsula”. Here, South American guanacos, maras, rheas and capybaras also share their home quite willingly – relaxing together or giving each other space as the mood takes them. In the heat of summer, the capybaras bathe placidly in their pool while the other animals take a nap in the shade of the trees. Sometimes, the rheas peck insects from the guanacos’ fur – a win-win situation! These housemates have so few things to argue about: mutual massages and skincare are as much a part of the animals’ daily routine as the punctual meals and regular cleaning of the habitat provided by their human keepers. That’s what we call carefree communal living!
© 2018 Paws, Incorporated. All rights reserved.
© Paws, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Aus dem Jahr 1980.
© Paws, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Aus dem Jahr 1982.