Armur the tiger made international headlines in November when he decided befriend his lunch that day – a particularly brazen goat named Timur.
This was unusual behaviour for the big cat, who is fed a live meal by staff at the Far Eastern Safari Park in Russia twice a week – usually rabbits, sheep or goats.
Months later, the pair’s unlikely friendship is still surprising staff at the park.
Straight off the bat, the plucky Timur kicked Armur out of his bed and settled in for a snooze, asserting a misguided confidence that shocked zoo staff.
“He didn’t eat him, it was incredible,” explained one zoo worker in a recent BBC video.
Four days later, staff decided they needed a name for the goat that defied the odds and ‘Timur’ – a courageous kid from a popular Communist-era children’s book – seemed a fitting title.
The pair’s mismatched friendshp has lasted much longer than anyone could have predicted, with the pair taking strolls around their enclosure together and even butting heads for fun.
Armur now sleeps on the roof of his old bed, while Timur gets to snuggle up inside.
“If [the goat] leaves, Armur roars and calls him back. Timur comes and the tiger calms down,” said the zookeeper, who believes Timur was spared because he impressed Armur with his courage.
“He could have eaten him a million times,” he said.
“It’s friendship. The goat showed his character, his greatness, and Armur said, ‘I respect that. Let’s be friends.'”
Armur and Timur sleep together, play together and even eat together: but goats are off the menu.
“We don’t give him goats anymore, out of respect of Timur,” he said.
“This is not just a goat anymore he’s Timur, he’s our colleagues.”
Although animal activists called for Timur to be removed from the tiger’s enclosure, the motley couple have become a star attraction for the remote wildlife park.
Visitors have tripled since November, and a live stream of the enclosure crashed the zoo’s website thanks to the public’s feverent fascination.
Armur and Timur have also mustered quite the following through their own Facebook and Instagram pages, which document a day in the life of a tiger and the meal he wouldn’t eat.