Disney might be busy remaking their animated classics with eerily lifelike computer-generated animals that are not a patch on the charisma of the originals, but Pumbaa visiting Timon – and his siblings – did make 2020 a little more bearable.

This is no Disney+ special, it’s Sir Francis Bacon – the amazingly named red river hog at the Cincinnati Zoo – getting a chance to visit the meerkat exhibit.

The whole video is delightful. And fortunately it was one of many, many in the “animals visiting other animals” genre this year. Zookeepers who had to deal with months-long closures had to figure various ways to keep their wards engaged, while also remaining relevant for the public at large in the hopes that people would return once lockdown restrictions lifted.

The most well-traveled of the lot appeared to be the penguins, like Wellington here at Chicago’s Shedd Acquarium getting to meet the Beluga whale.


Chico the sloth got a chance to travel all the way through the Texas State Acquarium, including meeting dolphins who seem to mimic his upside-down stance.


As Popular Science explained:

“These meet-and-greets don’t just add delight to people’s social media feeds – they also give the wildlife involved a break from the monotony...

If creatures remain idle for too long, they can suffer from cognitive decline and start showing repetitive behaviors, including pacing, neck twisting, over-grooming, or biting on bars. Wandering around other exhibits can provide them with a little physical and mental stimulation. It can also help fend off boredom in the animals behind the glass, who for logistical reasons, can’t be taken out.”

Which explains why the gorillas at the Toronto Zoo seemed overjoyed to get a glimpse of alpacas: