‘Odd’ Couple at the Brookfield Zoo Goes Viral

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

The Brookfield Zoo in Illinois, also known as the Chicago Zoological Park, shared footage of their “odd couple”: two animals who wouldn’t actually meet in the wild.

The zoo was introducing the otters to their new habitat, which is also inhabited by a population of gibbons, a small-ish primate. How do these two extremely different species live in the same environment in the zoo? Well, the gibbons live high above the otters in treetops specially crafted for them. Meanwhile, the otters live many feet below in the water. The otters typically can’t climb as high as the gibbons can, so they’re safe living together. And, they don’t consider each other threats: they’ve never met in the wild before.

In a video shared by the Brookfield Zoo, one little otter got curious about its new neighbor. It shimmied up the exposed tree roots near the water and approached a gibbon that was perched there. The otter sniffed at the gibbon, and then was particularly interested in the gibbon’s feet. It poked at its toes and picked up the feet to get a closer look. As if saying, “you’re a weird-looking otter, but you’re alright.”

The curator of primates at the Brookfield Zoo said that they expected the intermingling of species to take a while, and that other species would have posed a threat, according to CNN. But, otters are curious little creatures and don’t pose a threat to something like a gibbon. They are possibly a little embarrassing, though. The otter gave the gibbon a series of “kisses” before the gibbon decided to flee the scene.

“[The gibbon] was just kind of watching cautiously,” said Tim Sullivan, curator of primates at the Brookfield Zoo, “but was very comfortable with the otter kind of investigating his feet and smelling the hair on his chest.”

Brookfield Zoo Has ‘Odd Couple,’ While San Diego Zoo Recently Welcomed Endangered Turtle Babies

In more zoo news, the San Diego Zoo announced on Oct. 3 that they were welcoming a bevy of Indian narrow-headed softshell turtle hatchlings. It’s been 20 years since this species of turtle bred at the zoo, and this time they had 41 hatchlings to welcome into the world.

Conservationists from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance had been monitoring three adult turtles of the species. They’ve been hoping for any sign of reproduction. But, it takes a long time for these turtles to reach reproduction age. The population takes a while to recuperate from disease or great loss. “This is an extremely prolonged process as the turtles can take close to 10 years to even reach sexual maturity,” the zoo said in a statement.

The 41 eggs were found in two nests, and they all hatched successfully. The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is now the first association to successfully hatch Indian narrow-headed softshell turtles.