Story by Jenna St. Charles
Friends come in all shapes and sizes, especially in a place where its inhabitants can weigh anywhere from a few ounces all the way up to a few tons. One odd couple that has made the headlines for the past few weeks is our cute and cuddly pair of Kasi and Mtani, the cheetah cub and yellow lab. Many people question how two completely different species can form a bond that will last a lifetime, but Kasi and Mtani were not the first "odd couple" at Busch Gardens.
I’d like to introduce you to two animals that are an even more unlikely pair: a male Pacific Brant goose and his significant other, a female Aldabra Tortoise. The goose weighs in at just a few pounds, and the Aldabra weighs in at a few hundred pounds! They have been together for about four years in our tortoise habitat found in Nairobi. This dynamic duo can be seen eating side by side daily; and wherever the tortoise (dubbed by our keepers as “BG” - Brant’s Girl) goes, her faithful companion follows. He enjoys her company so much that you can regularly see him guarding her from her keepers. He also calls to her if he loses sight of her as she enters the barn on a cool night.
People wonder why this kind of bond takes place. In the case of most animals, it’s a matter of companionship. Brant geese are raised in groups of 3 – 5 chicks, and when they get old enough they mate for life. When the male doesn’t find any of the other geese to be suitable mates, he falls for a different kind of girl. It doesn’t matter to him that she’s a few hundred pounds larger and hasn’t any feathers. Maybe it is time they change that old adage about birds of a feather flocking together…
You can see all of our Aldabra Tortoises outside Jambo Junction in Nairobi.
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