Kenyan baboon plays mother to bush baby

A six-month-old yellow baboon, right, holds a three-month-old bush baby in the animal orphanage at the Kenya Wildlife Service headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, Friday, June 10, 2011. Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya - An abandoned bush baby and a yellow baboon have formed an unlikely companionship at an animal orphanage in Nairobi.

The six-month-old female baboon, abandoned by its family in Maralal in Northern Kenya, is taking care of the three-month-old bush baby that was also abandoned by its family in central Kenya.

Charles Musyoki, a senior scientist for species and conservation at the Kenya Wildlife Service, said Friday it is likely that the animals formed the bond in order to cope in the new environment at the animal orphanage.

``This is a situation where two individuals are basically in need of each other because they need the bond to survive in the absence of their parents and their grouping. Therefore when both find themselves in such a situation they tend to bond and make friendships,'' Musyoki said.

He said the union between the two species is a rare occurrence that was last recorded in Kenya in 2002, when a lioness adopted and nurtured a young oryx, a large antelope that lions normally hunt.

Musyoki said the two animals would not have had such a relationship in the wild. The yellow baboon is active during the day and sleeps at night, while the bush baby is a nocturnal animal, he said.

``In the natural world they are very separated in terms of time,'' Musyoki said, adding that there is now a bond ``in this captive environment because the two animals which are in distress, need each other for companionship, for friendship and play.''

The two animals will have to be separated as they become older, he said.

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