Suryia, the orangutan, and Roscoe, a Blue Tick dog, have formed an unlikely friendship since their paths crossed at a reserve for endangered animals. Now they swim together, play together and Suryia even takes Roscoe for his walks.
Roscoe and Suryia met in 2006 at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, an animal reserve for endangered animals. While Suryia was born at the reserve, Roscoe seemed homeless and followed staff into the reserve.
Roscoe was spotted by Suryia, who eagerly approached Roscoe to make friends. Dr Bhagavan Antle, the reserve’s founder, said: ‘Roscoe looked really thin and a little lost so we fed him and took care of him. He followed us through the gate and ran over and found Suryia. As soon as he saw Roscoe, Suryia ran over to him and they started playing. Dogs are usually scared of primates, but they took to each other straight away. We made a few calls to see if he belonged to anyone and when no one came forward, Roscoe ended up staying.’
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‘They will spend a few hours each day together rolling around, swimming,’ said Dr Antle. ‘Suryia will take Roscoe for walks around the enclosure and even feeds him some of his monkey biscuits.’
Suryia is an animal ambassador, helping to raise baby primates but he likes nothing better than spending quality time with his canine friend on his day off.
They have both become animal celebrities since forming an unbreakable friendship, appearing on The Ellen DeGeneres show and Oprah Winfrey show. They have also been featured in National Geographic magazine, showing us that humans aren’t the only members of the animal kingdom to demonstrate complex emotions and traits.
“To know that animals are capable of emotions like love, understanding and caring, like we are, is quite an eye-opener,” Tony Fitzjohn, a conservationist with Wildlife Now.
The pair have now released a picture book, Suryia and Roscoe, depicting their unusual friendship and adventures together. In one photo, a stubborn Roscoe refuses to eat a banana offered by Suryia. Another, shows Suryia in a life jacket closely watching over Roscoe as he goes for a dip in the pool.
The pair have come such a long way since their first encounter that they recently launched a book on their totally uncommon friendship. All proceeds from the book go to the Wild Orangutan Conservation.