When Timur the goat was sent into Amur the tiger's enclosure in a safari-park in Russia recently, little did anyone expect that a friendship would develop between the two.
After all, Timur was supposed to be Amur's lunch. If anything, the goat is said to have had a calming influence on the tiger.
Their story and photographs in the enclosure has since awed many.
What is even more surprising is the goat "showed no inkling of fear, eyeballed the tiger, and took over his shelter", TheSiberian Times reported.
The staff at the Far Eastern Safari Park at Shkotovsky, Primorsky region, told The Siberian Times that the Timur the goat was "very brave".
The report published on November 26 quoted the keeper as saying, "We think that the goat never came across tigers and no-one taught him to be scared of them. Amur the tiger is quite cautious by his nature decided not to go to the trouble of hunting Timur.
"The brave goat not only saved his own life. He kicked the tiger out of his bedroom and is sleeping on Amur's 'bed' for the fourth night. We named the goat Timur - he was just a nameless prey at the point when he entered the cage - out of respect his bravery."
Now, Timur and Amur take walks together everyday and Timur reportedly also get nervous if his tiger friend is not beside him.
Dmitry Mezentsev, director of Shkotovo safari-park, told The Siberian Times, "Sometimes during walks the tiger behaves as if he is hunting. Timur copies the behaviour of the predator, and imitates him. But he is not likely to start hunting."
However, not all are too optimistic about this odd yet budding relationship.
Vladimir Krever, WWF-Russia bio-diversity coordinator, has been quoted as telling a local newspaper, "One shouldn't apply terms of romantic novels to animals. But anything can happen in this unusual pair," he told Moskovsky Komsomolets, predicting unexpected intimacy between them.
As long as the predator is not hungry, the goat has a lot more chance to survive. However, there have been cases when even a hungry tiger didn't consider an animal he normally hunts on as food. Such examples of this paradoxical friendship can't be subject to predictions because it is related to particular intellectual features of this particular predator. There have been very limited studies of that.'
Zoo expert Rostislav Shilo also told The Siberian Times that the friendship is unlikely to last.
"There is an 80-85% chance that he will eat the goat. We had a vulture living with hares for some years. In winter, a hare can climb under his wing and sleep. I also remember a cat who lived with a rat. Such things happen. This is not unique, but always interesting.'