A good friend is like a four leafed clover: hard to find and lucky to have
National Best Friends Day is a day to celebrate that one person who is always by your side, through thick and thin. However, humans aren’t the only ones who have best friends - many animals also build close social bonds, including some of the animals at your Akron Zoo! Read on to learn about a few very special Akron Zoo friendships, and don’t forget to share it with your best friend too!
Kristoff and Olaf, the Akron Zoo’s chinchillas, are not only roommates but are truly best friends! These two nine-year-old buddies love doing everything together: education programs, playing with their enrichment, rolling in dust baths and bouncing here, there and everywhere! Though they have two totally different personalities they are truly best friends!
-Todd Boerner, Conservation Education Coordinator
These Friends are the GOAT, Literally!
Nixon and Flash, two of our male goats, were born in the same brood at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. As kids, the two were very mischievous troublemakers, and they would often try to sneak through doors without their keepers noticing. When they became older, both boys were part of a group of seven who would be moving to the Akron Zoo’s new boma habitat. Unfortunately, due to complications, the goats needed to be transferred to their new home in two smaller groups and the brothers were temporarily separated. Nixon arrived first with two other goats, but it was two months until his brother could join him. Keepers were incredibly excited to see the two reunited, and now they spend a lot of their time together. Despite being almost six years old, they are still sneaky troublemakers.
Our three horned goats, who came to us from the Cleveland Zoo, are also great friends. Cooper and Pinto are from the same brood, and Mustang is their half-brother. These three came to the Akron Zoo because the Cleveland Zoo had a full contact petting zoo, where these brothers became a bit too comfortable invading the personal space of very small children. Since arriving at the Akron Zoo, the three can often be seen together. Pinto and Mustang head-butt each other a lot to battle for the top spot in the hierarchy. Cooper used to be the top guy, but these days he would prefer to look for food. He will still occasionally join, but just for the fun of it.
-Christina Mlinaric, Hoofstock Keeper
The Akron Zoo is home to two Galapagos tortoises, Boxie and Pagos. These two are sweet ladies who spend a lot of time together, including time sleeping and eating. The girls often share food and, if given a shared foot item, the two will reenact the scene from Lady and the Tramp until they are sharing the last few bites in the middle.
-Dan Remski, Ectotherm Keeper
It Be Like Bat
Sierra began falling frequently in her habitat and the animal care team soon realized that she had scoliosis. She had to live in a smaller area so as not to injure herself. A few years later a bat was born who learned how to fly, but never quite got the hang of landing. She began injuring herself and we knew that something had to be done. Sierra and Leone became roommates and the rest is history. Like best friends they spend a lot of time ‘hanging’ out together. Also like best friends, they can sometimes be seen arguing with each other. But they always make up.
-Autumn Russell, Senior Director of Education and Communication
You May Say I’m A Lemur, But I’m Not The Only One
Lemurs are incredibly social animals, and many of our lemurs are good friends. Nathan and Gidro, our two male ring-tailed lemurs, are very close. They constantly groom each other, train together, and even share food. If one ever goes into the outside habitat and the other does not notice or doesn’t follow, they will loudly call to each other. The sound will just melt your heart, and it usually causes the other lemur to immediately run to his friend and start grooming him, because they are so happy to be back together. These two take turns being in charge, and they can often be seen sleeping cuddled together on top of their nest boxes.
The red ruff lemur sisters also spend a lot of time together and will pair off into friend groups, although these ‘pairs’ rotate regularly. If one sister is being unkind to another sister, the friend will defend her by batting, yelling or chattering at the other lemur. They will share food bowls with whichever other lemur is their friend of the day, cuddle together for sleeping and, much like the ring-tailed lemurs, if they can’t find their friend, they loudly call for each other until they are reunited.
-Liz Wilfong, Primate Keeper
Wool You Be My Buddy?
Ranger and Noel, the zoo’s alpacas, have shared space together for just a few years now. Although they sometimes spit at each other over food or get offended when play sessions or wrestling gets rough, they do show signs of enjoying each other's company. For example, they will often share food, and if Noel shows signs of being uncomfortable, Ranger runs to his "rescue" in a protective manner. They also smell each other's poop piles, like alpacas do, to see what's going on with each other and how the other is feeling that day.
-Christina Mlinaric, Hoofstock Keeper
Summer Lovin’ Happened So Fast!
I chose my human BFF in the 4th grade because she had a trampoline. Summer the groundhog chose me as her BFF because I had the best snacks…I guess animals and 4th graders can both be shallow.
-Debra Swank, Training and Trends Coordinator
In exchange for Summer’s friendship, Debra has been working as Summer’s “talent agent” and helping her climb through the ranks of social media stardom. If you would like to help by becoming one of our social media friends, you can see more of summer by searching #summerthegroundhog on Instagram!
I Ape-reciate You
Milo and Parker, our new white-cheeked gibbon pair, groom and cuddle non-stop. Milo does not appreciate when Parker gets scratches or is "groomed" by me, or anyone else. He shares some pretty interesting displays and vocalizations to let me know that she's HIS girlfriend and therefore only he should be grooming her. It is pretty cute.
-Brenna Erjavec, Primate Keeper
“Keeping” It Cool
Okay, I know we promised adorable animal besties, but we would be remiss if we didn’t also mention the zoo’s staff. Because we are a seven day a week organization, our weekends don’t always line up with the days off of others, so zoo staff often become very close friends as well, especially our keepers.
Since this is a smaller zoo, the keepers here are a bunch of best friends. We play kickball, volleyball and softball together. Sometimes we even have cookouts or fry fests, and we always try to cram around one table at lunch. Plus, we do whatever we can to help each other out and ensure we succeed.