Gorilla settles in with rabbit roommate

March 11, 2012 at 1:55 PM

ERIE, Pa., March 11 (UPI) -- Zookeepers in Erie, Pa., say their lonely lowland gorilla has taken to her new pet bunny quickly.

"Right off the bat, they hit it off," Erie Zoo Director Cindy Kreider said about Samantha, a 47-year-old gorilla who now has a long-eared pal named Panda to keep her company.

Panda was gradually introduced to Samantha's world as a companion after her old buddy Rudy died in 2005. Keepers figured Samantha was too old and fragile to deal with another gorilla, but a rabbit wouldn't cause any harm and would break the ape's solitude.

"To have something sharing their space that they can observe and interact with is always going to be beneficial," Kreider said.

The Erie (Pa.) Times-News said Sunday that Panda and Samantha have become fast friends. Samantha has been gentle and friendly toward Panda and even shares food and occasionally scratches its chin.

Zoo visitors have been delighted with the two roommates, especially due to the fact that Samantha has a buddy to hang out with.

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