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It looks like ultimate male bonding, but can it last?

By 0 and 0 and 0
30 November 2015


'Amur and Timur are friends, not a predator and a victim.' Picture: Dmitry Mezentsev

Last week we disclosed the remarkable story of how the goat - meant to be the tiger's lunch - ended up staying alive and bossing the big cat. After eyeballing the tiger, the goat took over the predator's shelter, with Amur seemingly content to sleep on the roof to allow Timur to rest in comfort in the predator's bed. 

Today we go back to the Far Eastern Safari Park at Shkotovsky, Primorsky to find their relationship blossoming one week after the goat was thrown into the Siberian tiger's enclosure as live prey.

These pictures and videos show the warmth of a relationship nature never intended. 

But messages from worried Russians have called for the brave Billy goat  to be rewarded for his courage - and to be urgently removed from any risk of Amur suddenly turning on him.

In fact the keepers have now given them separate night shelters, but allow them to roam together during the day. They insist that Timur is perfectly safe, and that he has had a calming psychological effect on the big cat.

Amur and Timur

Amur and Timur

These pictures show the warmth of a relationship nature never intended. Pictures: Dmitry Mezetsev, V. Ankov

Dmitry Mezentsev, Safari-park director, insists: 'Amur and Timur are friends, not a predator and a victim. The situation is, of course, unusual, amazing and quite phenomenal. I would have not believed it if someone told me. But this is a reality. They are friendly and they are inseparable. Look at these pictures and say who do you see: are they a victim and a predator, or are they the best friends?'

The tiger has begun protecting his new comrade from unwanted human attention, too. 

'Yesterday evening during meal time Amur waited until the goat finished his food and entered the shed,' explained the director. 'He even hissed at a member of staff who has always fed the tigers. 

'It was like a 'Don't get too close to my friend!' message. He was never before aggressive with the park members. When the goat finished his food and came inside the shed Amur sniffed Timur.' 

This is not the only sign of a deepening friendship. 'They started eating together,' said Mr Mezentsev. 'Amur is feeding on meat, Timur is having hay, oats and wheat.'

Not to confuse matters, the safari park keepers are no longer sending live goats for Amur's lunch, but he is still getting live prey - rabbits.

Amur and Timur

Amur and Timur

Normally big cats don't think twice about eating the live prey placed helplessly in their enclosures. Pictures: Dmitry Mezentsev

'We have now stopped feeding Amur with goats altogether. He will continue getting live prey twice a week, but it will be only rabbits.' And these he is killing and eating without a second thought, while preserving the life of his friend. 

'Yesterday they slept in different night enclosures, and then did a morning walk around their territory together. The animals will continue being together and will not be separated. The goat is in no danger.'

This does not convince many people who are fascinated by the relationship.

'Many experts say that this union is not going to last. Please rescue Timur!' demanded Irina, in one of many messages on the safari' park's website. 'Please keep him safe, he deserves a separate enclosure and love from Safari park visitors,' added Sergei. 

Amur and Timur

Amur and Timur

Amur and Timur

'Yesterday they slept in different night enclosures, and then did a morning walk around their territory together. Pictures: Dmitry Mezetsev

Olga wrote a personal plea to Mr Mezentsev: 'Dear Director: you must notice that the majority of people are asking you to move the goat to another enclosure. Why don't you take their voices into account? And make a special plate for Timur the Hero. This friendship and the whole situation should have a good end. Don't tempt fate and don't make it that poor Timur ends up eaten. People will never forgive you.'

Anna urged: 'The park had good PR, now everyone knows about them. It's time to guard the goat from the inevitable. Everyone understands that it is only a matter of time, and then all the positive PR will turn negative. Why are you stretching it to the limit. End it well.'

Another Olga expressed similar sentiments. 

'The goat's and tiger's lives are not well-arranged. The tiger has to live on the roof open to all winds. The goat is out in the night in conditions that domestic animals are not used to. They both might get cold as a result of that. You must be having night time temperatures as low as minus 35C. Prove that you are caring by solving this issue responsibly.'

The safari park keeper sees things differently. 

Tigress Ussury

Will the tigress-bride Ussury as caring to her husband's best friend? Picture: Dmitry Mezentsev

'If earlier Amur was going out in the morning and immediately leaving to walk around the territory, now he waits until the goat joins him.' said the director. 'We believe that it is unlikely that Amur might attack the goat. We think he doesn't perceive the goat to be his prey but rather takes him as an equivalent to himself. 

'We are not afraid of the goat's life because if Amur wanted to eat him, it would have happened a while ago. Amur is a strong predator, he dealt with prey much bigger than Timur. We think that brave Timur proved that he can live with the tiger and so be it, he will stay with Amur. They even started drinking water together.'

Before the friendship began, the tiger often roared day and night. Now, say keepers, he has become 'calmer and more balanced'.

Still, the safari park has a plan to pair the tiger - he is an Amur big cat native to eastern Siberia - with a tigress which arrived recently at the park. They will not be put together for another year or more, but will the tigress be as caring to her husband's best friend? 

Comments (7)

The goat was deemed expendable and lunch when she was first placed in the tiger enclosure. No reason at all removal. If a friendship has occurred, natural or not, it would be sicker to remove the goat and destroy that bond.
Thomas, Minneapolis Minnesota USA
09/01/2016 18:41
I hope this incredible and fascinating story will go on so far as possible.Every day I get in touch the Siberian Times trying to be up todate with the latest development.
Vannucchi Giuseppe, Pistoiia - Italy
14/12/2015 23:55
Keep them together it's gods will don't give him the girl tiger until the gist dies if Ido it will b a bad ending for all involved
Sergio, Usa
13/12/2015 11:15
maybe people should make a petition to remove the goat? the truth is that no one knows how the goat feels...I dont think the Safari-park director would want to live with predator.
vivi, canada montreal
02/12/2015 02:10
the goat has big horns and for the time being showed the tiger that she will use them. and hopefully the park rangers will keep the tiger well fed. because when he will be hungry, there is no more friendship. than the goat will be lunch and dinner. such is nature.
but it makes nice news while it lasts. let it be for some more time.
Benedikt, Moscow,Russia
01/12/2015 09:47
A beautiful story, but, I too worry for the goat's survival. Much positive publicity and hopefully donations help the zoo but now please consider separating them.
Steven Kovacs, Toronto Canada
01/12/2015 07:54
It's an incredible story that I enjoy following! The relationship between tiger and goat sounds mutually symbiotic -- both needing the companionship of one another. I say let them be. I applaude that the safari park is accommodating the goat and has alterered the live prey menu for the tiger. What's worrisome is the planned arrival of a tigress... what are the odds she'll defy natural instincts too?
Donna , Scottsdale, Arizona USA
30/11/2015 18:59

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