You may have recently seen a video from the Beijing Wildlife Zoo going viral. What exactly was so interesting about this video? It shows a dog playing with big cats four to five times its size! Many people might wonder if this dog has a death wish, but it seems that the dog and the big cats are good friends.
The dog was actually raised alongside the lion and tiger cubs, making up an odd but loving family, according to zoo officials. If you think this is a bit too wild, just remember that cross-species friendship has been common for centuries. People have domesticated many animals, most notably cats and dogs, and formed bonds with them as pets. Perhaps you even have a pet yourself.
There are many other instances of cross-species friendships in captivity.
At an animal sanctuary in Santiago, Chile, a kitten named Marina and a piglet named Laura formed a friendship after they both came to the park. As neither animal had a mother, sanctuary staff said they instantly bonded when they met. Laura had been rescued from a slaughterhouse while Marina had been rescued from the street.
One possible explanation for these friendships is the environment of the zoo. Animals don’t hunt for their food and don’t need to worry about marking their territory or looking for mates in the way an animal in the wild would. “All those activities take time and energy, and if these needs are removed, the animals get bored,” Gordon Burghardt, a psychologist at the University of Tenessee, US, told The Atlantic magazine. “In this particular situation, the animal’s motivation to engage socially and playfully maybe higher in its need hierarchy than eating.”
Marc Bekoff, former biology professor at the University of Colorado, US, told Slate magazine, “I think the choices animals make in cross-species relationships are the same as they’d make in same-species relationships. Some dogs don’t like every other dog. Animals are very selective about the other individuals who they let into their lives.”
(Translator & Editor: Li Xinzhu AND Luo Sitian)