Toddler strikes up friendship with orangutan
A toddler struck up an unlikely relationship with an orangutan during a trip to an animal sanctuary.
Emily Bland was visiting The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S) in Miami, when she met one-year-old organgutan Rishi. The pair formed an immediate bond, playing, laughing and even enjoying a mid-afternoon tea party
Older male orangutans refuse to accept new males into the family, so Rishi had to leave the Jungle Island animal park where he was born.
"I had come along to the institute to photograph Rishi who had recently been adopted into a new family and I thought it would be a good to bring Emily along," revealed 38-year-old photographer Barry Bland.
"Almost as soon as we arrived, Rishi had an instant chemistry with Emily.
"They looked completely content with each other and they sat and played with each other for a few hours.
"It was quite incredible to see such interaction and as you can see they make for the cutest pictures.
However, the unusually intimate interaction was of no surprise to T.I.G.E.R.S founder Dr Bhagavan Antle.
"I am not surprised by Rishi and Emily's friendship," reveals Dr Antle.
"Orangutans are intelligent and certainly the most friendly apes on the planet."
"The youngsters enjoy their playtime and are always looking for an opportunity experience new things and make new friends and monkey around.
"Rishi, who is the youngest of the family, is always looking for someone to play with.
"That's where Emily stepped in to provide a playmate to swing in the trees, have tea with, and go for a ride.
"All infants have the capacity to get along and as youngsters the barriers between species appear to disappear."
Orangutans are one of the most endangered species on earth.
Recent expansion of palm oil plantations and over logging of their forests in Borneo and Sumatra have created a rapidly declining habitat for the great apes.
Working in conjunction with Jungle Island, The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species is a wildlife education organisation dedicated to promoting global conservation with informative, educational and entertaining interactive programs.
Under the supervision of their handlers, animals wander freely through the T.I.G.E.R.S institute, allowing spectators to enjoy an up close and personal experience.