Baboon adopts a chicken at Lithuanian zoo

VILNIUS Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:02am EDT

VILNIUS (Reuters) - A lonely baboon in a private Lithuanian zoo has adopted a chicken he saved from certain death last month and the two have formed a fast friendship, the zoo's director said on Friday.

The chicken was intended as food for other animals in the zoo, but escaped and was sheltered by Mitis, a six-year-old Hamadryas Baboon, Edvardas Legeckas, who runs the zoo near the port city Klaipeda in western Lithuania, told Reuters.

Mitis has been fed chicken meat before, but this time he fell in love with his food, Legeckas said.

"He plays with the chicken, cleans its feathers, sleeps with it, and takes care as if it was his own baby child," the zoo director said.

"But I am not sure how long this affair would last, because baboon may finally realize this is food."

Baboons, with their distinctive long dog-like muzzles and heavy powerful jaws, are omnivorous, but usually prefer fruit. In the wild, they live in close-knit social groups.

"Obviously this baboon needed someone to communicate with," the director said.