Staff Didn’t Know What Gorilla Was Holding, Until They Got Closer

Gorillas are some of the most majestic creatures on the planet. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, they share 98.3 percent of their DNA with humans. This means they are able to exhibit human traits such as high-level intelligence and deep emotions.

One particular gorilla caught the attention of staff working at a primate sanctuary when he was caught doing something quite unusual. When the staff got closer to him, they knew this was a story they had to share with the world.

A Sanctuary Devoted To Helping Apes

a woman wearing a shirt saying ape action africa
Ape Action Africa
Ape Action Africa

Founded in 1996, Ape Action Africa is a wildlife conservation organization based in the United Kingdom to rescue and rehabilitate apes. Their goal is to save primates from the dangers of illegal bushmeat and pet trades.

There are currently 280 rescued primates, including gorillas, chimpanzees, and monkeys, at Ape Action Africa’s Mefou primate sanctuary in Cameroon, Central Africa. When a certain orphaned gorilla arrived at Mefou, the staff wasn’t prepared for what would happen next.

Ape Action Africa Today

man and woman holding hands with monkeys in ape action africa shirts
Ape Action Africa
Ape Action Africa

After almost 25 years in operation, Ape Action Africa has become one of the largest conservation projects in Africa. They have strived to keep the best living conditions for their primates and to protect them from potential threats in the wild.

The orphaned gorilla’s story of arriving at the sanctuary is similar to the hundreds of other apes who have entered their care. Now, with social media, the world is getting a chance to see how much their work is making a difference.

Ape Action Africa And Their Community

cans with gorilla names on them including Bobo
Ape Action Africa
Ape Action Africa

The community in Cameroon is very supportive of the Mefou primate sanctuary and many of the community members work or volunteer there. The sanctuary also has an education program for local kids.

While the threats to African primates remain, Ape Action Africa and the sanctuary are doing what they can to help orphaned or injured apes return to a safe, controlled, and stable environment. This doesn’t come cheap because a year of care for the primates costs $337,000 on average.

Bobo Arrives At Mefou

a baby gorilla being held by his mother
Alexis Huguet/AFP via Getty Images
Alexis Huguet/AFP via Getty Images

When Bobo the gorilla was just a baby, his mother was taken away by poachers. Bobo was abandoned without his mother to help raise him, so he needed outside help to survive.

Luckily, the staff at Mefou primate sanctuary were able to take him in when he was two-years-old. It took him some time to warm up to his new surroundings because it was an immense life change, but eventually, he showed his true colors.

Bobo Became The Sanctuary’s Leader

a silverback gorilla in the leaves
Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images
Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images

Bobo arrived a shy and timid orphaned baby gorilla at Mefou, but grew up to be a natural-born leader. He was very strong and was known as the dominant ape at the sanctuary.

Poachers wouldn’t try to mess with the adult-sized Bobo who weighed over 350 pounds. His newfound alpha-male status was something he took very seriously and he guarded that title with his life. As the staff observed him, they noticed something jarring about his personality.

The Alpha-Male Shows A New Side Of Himself

a gorilla holding a rope outside
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images

Although Bobo, the 350-pound alpha-male gorilla, ranked at the top of his sanctuary, his true personality wasn’t what most would expect. From early on, the staff were able to see how sweet of a gorilla he was.

Bobo was intimidating on the outside, but would remain calm and unbothered most of the time. Elissa O’Sullivan, Bobo’s earliest caretaker, thought the behavior he exhibited as an alpha-male gorilla was quite strange. She wanted to find out if there was something wrong with him.

Bobo Would Not Give Up His Elite Status

two gorillas sitting by each other
Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images
Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty Images

When the other male gorillas at the sanctuary noticed that Bobo wasn’t acting like a typical alpha-male, they tried to dethrone him. “Younger males Kibu and Nkamum once challenged Bobo for his position,” said Elissa.

While Bobo didn’t want to get into a brawl with the other male gorillas, he still stood up for himself and didn’t let them take control over him. Bobo’s behavior continued to not make sense to Elissa and she needed to make sure he wasn’t a threat to both the staff and other primates.

He Started Isolating Himself From The Others

a gorilla laying on the grass with his arm out
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa

The staff at the sanctuary would always notice how Bobo would walk around the enclosure in a confident manner. He knew he was the alpha and had the attitude to match.

Elissa made sure to keep a close eye on him and saw that his behavior changed dramatically. Instead of keeping watch over the others, Bobo would go off by himself into the long grass to hide. When she got closer to Bobo, she noticed that he was hiding something that he didn’t want the others to see.

What Was Going On With Bobo?

a gorilla sitting in the leaves
Stuart Price/AFP via Getty Images
Stuart Price/AFP via Getty Images

The staff at the sanctuary were more than understanding of the odd behaviors exhibited by the primates because most, if not all, had been traumatized in some way. Gorillas can experience trauma similarly to humans.

This meant that Elissa and the rest of the workers needed to figure out what was bothering Bobo in order for him to go back to normal. She seemed alarmed at his actions and wasn’t sure if this was something that could be fixed.

Getting To The Bottom Of It

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Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Mefou and their staff vow to make sure that every primate that comes to them is given the best care possible. They take their jobs seriously because they know how important it is to keep these apes alive and thriving.

Seeing Bobo not act in a typical alpha-male persona was jarring for Elissa because it seemed rare to find him acting so secretive and aloof. Since she promised to keep all the primates safe, she continued to keep a close eye on Bobo.

Could He Have PTSD?

a gorilla looking around outside
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The staff is aware that most of the primates at the sanctuary have gone through traumatic experiences, which may result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The staff is trained on how to treat the animals if this occurs.

In order to be sure that was what was going on with Bobo, Elissa needed to follow him around. His behavior became more suspicious as he moved through the enclosure. Then, she saw him holding something in his hands.

Elissa Was In For A Big Surprise

a gorilla standing by tall grass
Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

After following Bobo around for a while, Elissa saw him covering something in his hands. She didn’t want to get too close in case it would disturb or upset him.

Elissa looked all around her surroundings in the long grass by Bobo, but didn’t see anything that was out of the ordinary. It was clear that this was something that Bobo wasn’t hiding away, but was keeping with him at all times. She had never seen an ape act like this before.

Elissa Realized What He Was Holding

a portrait of a gorilla
Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Elissa knew she couldn’t get too close to Bobo. Although he was one of the more friendly gorillas, he had recently become more distant around staff and the other animals.

She had to be really careful when stepping closer to Bobo to get a better look at what he was keeping in his hands. When she got closer, she noticed that the object was in fact moving. It had to be some sort of living creature.

Trying To Identify The Creature

a gorilla sitting on the grass
Tim Graham/Getty Images
Tim Graham/Getty Images

Bobo noticed Elissa and the rest of the staff getting closer to him and his creature, so he got spooked and ran off into the overgrown grass. It was clear that he was very protective over whatever he was holding.

Elissa tried to stay back, but she was fixated on the tiny creature. She tried as hard as she could to identify it, but she wasn’t able to get a good look. After only getting a glimpse, she still had no clue what it could be.

Bobo The Protector

a gorilla and a little creature outside by the leaves
Ape Action Africa
Ape Action Africa

When Bobo ran away from the staff he made sure to keep his little creature tucked into his paws. He kept poking and prodding it to make sure that it was doing okay.

The weird part about that was that the creature didn’t seem to mind being handled by a huge gorilla. The staff had suspected that the animal was a rodent, but its behavior was starting to prove otherwise. Elissa got out her binoculars to get a closer look.

What Could It Be?

a tiny animal in the grass next to a gorilla
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa

It all started to make sense to Elissa when she got a clearer view using her binoculars. This wasn’t a rodent, but it was actually a primate.

There was no way this could be a primate that was already cared for by the sanctuary. The staff always made sure they knew the whereabouts of the almost 300 apes living there. This primate had to have come from the wild and Bobo’s paternal instincts kicked in seeing it all alone.

The Creature’s Identity Finally Revealed

a gorilla holding a bush baby
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa

The staff are experts in primates, so it was only a matter of time until they found its true identity. Finally, Elissa and the other staff members concluded that it had to be a galago.

The only way it could have found its way into the sanctuary’s enclosure was from the surrounding forest nearby. Galagos are given the nickname “bush babies” because of their distinct crying sound. Mefou had never cared for a galago before and certainly wouldn’t put it in the care of a giant gorilla.

Small But Mighty

a gorilla holding a bush baby on the grass
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa

It was quite rare to see a wild bush baby in the area and Elissa was impressed with how great of a job Bobo was doing as its caregiver. “The bush baby showed no fear of Bobo, moving around his body and spending time hopping around in an open grassy area before choosing to return to Bobo,” said Elissa.

The galago was certainly attached to Bobo and trusted him as much as a biological parent. Elissa knew the wild bush baby wasn’t supposed to be at the sanctuary, but couldn’t help feel touched by Bobo’s relationship with the galago.

This Galago Wasn’t Normal

a bush baby getting fed by a gorilla
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa
Alex Benitez/Ape Action Africa

Elissa admitted, “Bush babies are usually nocturnal, so it is very rare to see one, and even rarer to witness this kind of interaction.” Since galagos are nocturnal, she was so perplexed why this one really wasn’t.

Bush babies do almost all of their daily activities during the night including hunting and feeding. Bobo would feed the galago breakfast in the morning and give him more care throughout the day, so Elissa knew this bush baby wasn’t normal.

A Perfectly Odd Match

a galago in a tree at night
Hoberman Collection/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Hoberman Collection/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Elissa shared that it was incredibly rare to have animals from an enclosed sanctuary and the wild interact with one another. Animals usually stayed within their own environments, but that wasn’t the case with Bobo and the galago.

Since Mefou had a unique location in Cameroon, it was a bit easier for smaller animals to gain entry without the staff noticing. Soon, the other apes in the sanctuary started to discover what Bobo was doing and became intrigued.

Welcoming The Galago With Open Arms

two gorillas looking at the bush baby
Ape Action Africa
Ape Action Africa

It didn’t take long for Bobo’s other ape friends to see that he was caring for the galago and they became interested by his actions. Their curiosity grew stronger by seeing their alpha-male be so nurturing.

“The little bush baby was happy to play in Bobo’s arms, hopping off to explore the grass nearby, before returning to Bobo’s hand,” Elissa said. The other primates saw how much Bobo loved the bush baby and started welcoming it with open arms.

Keeping The Bush Baby Safe

four gorillas gathered around each other
Ape Action Africa
Ape Action Africa

Bobo was aware that the other apes wanted to get closer to the galago, but he wasn’t sure that would be best. Elissa noticed how he would keep the others at a distance from the bush baby in order to keep him safe and protected.

Then, Bobo realized that the sanctuary may not be the greatest environment for the bush baby. He lifted the little creature up to a tree branch over the enclosure, giving it the opportunity to return to the wild.

Elissa Captured It All On Camera

a facebook post talking about Bobo and the bush baby
Ape Action Africa/Facebook
Ape Action Africa/Facebook

This was the experience of a lifetime, so Elissa knew it needed to be recorded. She and some of the other staff were able to film Bobo’s time caring for the galago for the world to see.

They posted the heartwarming footage on Facebook with the caption: “Our silverback gorilla Bobo made a surprising new friend this week – a wild bush baby!” She continued, “Caregivers discovered him cradling the tiny primate during their morning checks, and were amazed to see him handling it with the utmost care.”

People Were Touched By Bobo’s Story

Facebook comments on Bobo's video
Ape Action Africa/Facebook
Ape Action Africa/Facebook

It didn’t take long for Bobo’s story to go viral online with people all over the globe interacting with the video. Bobo’s video with the bush baby received almost two million views and over two thousand comments.

People were so touched by the way Bobo cared for the galago, noting that many humans don’t regularly exhibit these kind of traits in real life. “And people say animals don’t have feelings…this is a perfect example of love. Too bad people aren’t like this,” said Facebook user Dawn Goddiess Smith.

Bobo Raised Awareness For Gorilla Endangerment

a gorilla looking off to the side in a photo
Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images
Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bobo’s story had great significance not only for the sanctuary but for all animal conservation organizations. Bobo was able to raise awareness about gorilla endangerment and what it takes to keep these animals in a healthy environment.

The tropical rainforest in Cameroon is disappearing quickly and poachers are on the rise, so these gorillas need sanctuaries more than ever. Gorillas are also under threat when it comes to climate change, disease, and hunting availability.

Gorillas Are Nurturing Animals

an adult gorilla holding a baby gorilla
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

An article in The Atlantic called “Male Gorillas Love Hanging Around With Infants” proves how nurturing male gorillas are and why Bobo’s story makes so much sense. “The males, whether silverbacks or subordinates, will cuddle infants, play with them, welcome them into their nests, and just plain hang out with them,” said anthropologist Stacy Rosenbaum.

Rosenbaum goes on to say that male gorillas are often incredibly tolerant, gentle, and loving. Many of the infants they care for usually aren’t their own.

These Gentle Giants Are In Danger

an adult gorilla carrying its baby on its back
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

These majestic creatures have been on the planet for thousands of years, but their livelihood is more threatened now than ever before. Many live around the Congo Basin forest, which is endangered due to local forest conversion from industrial agriculture projects.

According to the IUCN Red List, every species of the gorilla is either endangered or critically endangered. There are only a little over 100,000 gorillas left in the wild with several placed in zoos and sanctuaries similar to Mefou.

They’re One Of The Most Intelligent Animals

Koko the gorilla speaking sign language with a woman on a phone
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

Gorillas are considered to be one of the world’s smartest animal species. Some have been taught sign language, how to make and use tools, and complex ways of thinking.

These animals have deep emotions that can be used to laugh, grieve, develop strong familial bonds, and even think spiritually. One instance of a gorilla using high intelligence was in the Republic of Congo where a female gorilla used a stick to check the depth of a swamp before crossing.

The Closest Relative To Humans

a woman holding a baby gorilla on her back
Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Humans share up to 99 percent of their DNA with gorillas, making them the closest living relative to humans. Gorillas have 25 different vocalizations, which is how they communicate with one another. For example, they may grunt, bark, scream, roar, or belch and each of these sounds have a distinct meaning.

Even with all the similarities, they are still one of the most endangered animals on the planet. A report from the United Nations suggests that gorillas may disappear from the Congo Basin forest by the mid-2020s.

There’s Reason For Hope

a man holding a baby gorilla
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images

Although gorillas remain endangered, there’s a reason for hope. The internet is vast and people are sharing their passion for helping these animals with facts to back it up.

Several official agreements have been made to protect gorillas from disappearing and volunteers are spending their time and money to make sure these animals are protected. “There is more meaning and mutual understanding in exchanging a glance with a gorilla than with any other animal I know,” said natural historian and broadcaster David Attenborough.

Crowd Stands In Awe As A Bear Encounters A House Cat In Its Enclosure

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In 2000, at the Berlin Zoo, zookeepers and guests were observing the enclosure of an Asiatic bear named Mäuschen when they were completely taken aback by a stray black house cat that managed to wander into the bear’s dangerous enclosure at the zoo.

Onlookers rightfully feared that they were about to watch the docile cat, which they would later name Muschi, get killed right in front of their very eyes.

A Zoo Favorite

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Although there are countless different species residing within the walls of the Berlin Zoo, Mäuschen the bear was a favorite among both visitors and workers. Not only did everyone think that she was a gorgeous animal, but they also admired both her size and strength.

When they saw Muschi in the same enclosure they knew exactly what Mäuschen was capable of doing to the cat so they watched with wonder at the two animals met…

The First Sighting

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Muschi was first spotted by a zoo employee early in the morning while they were in Mäuschen’s enclosure, making sure that she had enough food for her breakfast. The cat was seen sitting on a branch up in a tree.

This was out of the ordinary because they definitely didn’t have an exhibit for house cats in the zoo, so they weren’t entirely sure where Muschi came from. Despite the odd sighting, zookeepers didn’t think the cat would enter the enclosure.

The Situation Changed Drastically

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It wasn’t long until Mäuschen eventually noticed the cat in the tree and immediately became interested. People weren’t sure if Mäuschen was just curious or if they saw the cat as a quick snack.

Mäuschen then began to slowly make their way to where the cat was perched in the tree. To the bystander’s amazement, the cat then jumped from the branch and onto the ground inside of the enclosure.

Everyone Was Amazed

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Everyone watching soon became astonished, when in fact, the opposite of what they had feared happened. Mäuschen wasn’t aggressive towards the cat whatsoever but was in fact enamored by it.

The two became friends almost instantly, something that went against what some people might call the laws of nature. Not only were the two friendly towards each other, but the pair soon became inseparable within the bears enclosure at the zoo.

They Had To Be Separated

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In 2007, the Berlin Zoo decided that it was necessary to expand Mäuschen’s enclosure to improve her quality of life. While this was a great decision and benefited Mäuschen, it also posed a problem.

While her enclosure was under construction, it meant that Mäuschen and Muschi had to be separated for some time. Considering that the two were best friends by this point, neither was happy from being away from each other.

They Missed Each Other Dearly and Zookeepers Felt Awful

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Even though the two would have an even better life as soon as Mäuschen’s enclosure was finished, neither understood what was happening. They both most likely thought they had been separated for good.Muschi would sit outside of Mäuschen’s cage all night and refuse to leave.

This circumstance made all of the zookeepers feel terrible for separating an already particularly unique and beautiful relationship. The zoo staff knew they had to make it right.

They Were Finally Reunited

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Although the two had a hard time being separated from one another, their suffering came to an end as soon as Mäuschen’s enclosure was no longer under construction. After getting used to her new and improved home, the two were overjoyed to finally be back together.

Unsurprisingly, the couple’s rekindled relationship began to attract a lot of attention not just from the zoo’s employees but from visitors who flocked to the zoo to see the unique pair.

The Real Question

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Soon after the two were back together again, people started coming around from all over to see for themselves the cat and the bear who were best buds. It is truly shocking to see two animals that you would never normally be seen together living as an inseparable pairing.

While everyone was fascinated by their relationship, people soon began asking questions. One of the most popular questions was where did Muschi come from in the first place?

Studying Their Relationship

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While everyone was curious how Muschi made its way into the zoo and later into Mäuschen’s enclosure, they never did get a solid answer. However, what was more fascinating than Muschi’s rather random appearance was the couple’s extremely unlikely friendship.

Why was Muschi so inclined to climb into the enclosure and get close to a predator that her instincts should have told her to stay away from? The zookeepers began to think that the two had been destined to meet.

A Lesson To Be Learned

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Yes, Muschi and Mäuschen’s friendship is incredibly unique and very adorable, but it also has a deeper meaning. Nobody ever thought that a random cat and bear that didn’t grow up together would become the best of friends.

They are living proof that even though people are different whether it’s their race, culture, or personality, friendships can blossom out of anywhere! People don’t have to hang around with the same people because friendship can be found in the most unexpected places.

More Bear And Cat Friendships

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Amazingly enough, Muschi and Mäuschen weren’t the only bear and cat couple that has a special bond between them.

While many people thought that Muschi and Mäuschen’s relationship was unique to the Berlin Zoo, another one was discovered all the way in California! They were found at the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary. Perhaps our next bear and cat relationship would help researchers better understand why this type of pairing was happening multiple times.

Another Black Cat

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Much like Muschi, a black cat, whom the workers named Little Bear wandered into the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary and eventually found itself inside the zoo’s bear enclosure. Much like in Berlin, people were scared that something horrible was going to happen to the cat being all alone in a cage with a bear.

However, to everyone’s relief, the two got along swimmingly and it actually appeared that the two sincerely enjoyed being around each other.

Sneaky Kitty

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Little Bear was initially quite the sneaky cat. Zookeepers discovered the cat sneaking into the bear’s enclosure every morning to steal some of the food that they would leave out for the animal.

Instead of acting like the dangerous predator it could have become, the bear allowed the cat to eat some of its food every day. Eventually, zookeepers began putting out a bowl of cat food for the cat and their bear friend left the food for their new feline friend to eat.

The Zookeepers Were Shocked

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Many of the Zoo’s employees and zookeepers were shocked by the unusual relationship between the two animals. For the most part, it just didn’t make sense for the two of them to have such a mutual relationship.

Jill Faust, a senior lead zookeeper in Folsom City, claimed that it was unlike anything that she had seen in her whole career. While the two animals were an odd pair, the zoo wanted to do its best to foster the relationship the best they could.

Choosing The Biggest Friend

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While Little Bear wandered around the zoo as they pleased, the cat made an interesting choice for a best friend. Little Bear took interest in one of the zoo’s largest animals. Choosing to befriend a 500-pound black bear named Sequoia.

While Sequoia had never really been aggressive in nature, the zookeepers still wanted to keep an eye on the unusual pair in order to make sure that Little Bear wasn’t in any serious danger.

It Was Beneficial For The Zoo

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Most zoos and other wildlife sanctuaries, unfortunately, suffer financially and need all the help they can get to maintain the grounds and provide for the animals. Luckily for the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, Sequoia and Little Bear’s relationship helped to greatly increase foot traffic at the zoo.

People were coming from all over to witness for themselves a small house cat and a 550-pound bear hanging out with each other. For many, the sight was unbelievable.

Little Bear Acted Like A Big Bear

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Even though Little Bear was a fraction of the size and weight of Sequoia and the other bears in the enclosure, she never seemed intimidated by any of them. If anything, the cat appeared to be very comfortable around their newly adopted bear family.

For most of the day, Little Bear could be seen relaxing in the shade provided by the trees in the enclosure as Sequoia and the other bears went about their business. Some people even believe that Little Bear might have thought they were a bear too!

Loving The Attention

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During her time relaxing at the zoo, and especially the bear enclosure, Little Bear was loving all of the attention they were getting from the visitors. Despite hanging around other animals that could kill her at any second she appeared completely relaxed.

Much like Muschi and Mäuschen, Little Bear and Sequoia had become inseparable and left visitors scratching their heads. And much like our first bear and cat pairing, the connection between the two appeared to be immediate.

Friends Until The End

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Both Muschi and Mäuschen and Little Bear and Sequoia are both undoubtedly strange relationships between two cats and two bears. Although each relationship is unique in their own ways, both friendships have proven that we may not know as much about animal behavior as we think.

Both sets of friends have now come so far that there’s little doubt that their relationships will only grow stronger in time. We thought friendships like this only existed in Disney movies!