YOUNG WORLD

Friends at the nursery

ABANDONED AT BIRTH: A Sumatran tiger and an orangutan.   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: AP

R. KRITHIKA

It's an impossibility in their natural habitat but, at the Taman Safari Zoo in Indonesia, one-month-old Sumatran tiger twins, Dema and Manis, have made friends with five-month-old orangutans Nia and Irma. They are so inseparable that they share a room at the zoo's nursery. All four were abandoned by their natural mothers after birth and have lived together for four months without any signs of hostility. But news agency AP quoted veterinarian Retno Sudarwati as saying that the unusual friendship will be short-lived because their natural survival instincts will kick in as the animals grow up. "When the time comes, they will have to be separated. It's sad, but we can't change their natural behaviour," she said. "Tigers start eating meat when they are three months old." Both the Sumatran tiger and the orangutan are endangered species threatened by poaching and illegal logging and cut-and-burn farming in their habitat, the Indonesian rainforest.