It’s “Wild Kingdom’s” version of the “Odd Couple.”
Two wild predators are finding they can’t live without each other at a wild animal sanctuary in northwest Arizona.
He is Anthony the lion, she is Riley the coyote. Both were less than five weeks old when they were rescued nearly two years ago by the Keepers of the Wild animal sanctuary in Valentine, near Kingman.
The two animals were recently featured in a PBS nature special called “Animal Odd Couples.” They are about to be featured on a Canadian Kids TV show called “Toc Toc Toc,” and in an upcoming film about animal sanctuaries.
“Since they were both very, very small and we really couldn’t put them in a habitat, we kind of raised them in our house, which is located in the middle of our sanctuary,” said Jonathan Kraft, the sanctuary’s founder. “They stayed in the house for about three months and really bonded with each other.”
The sanctuary tried to separate the two. It didn’t work.
“He (the lion) would go absolutely crazy, almost hurting himself,” Kraft said. “The coyote was going absolutely crazy and howl all day and all night. They have been absolutely inseparable since.”
Now they live together in a large natural habitat. Kraft said Riley appears to have no interest in any of the coyotes that she can hear howling nearby.
There is another lion in the next habitat. When it comes to the fence, Riley the coyote stands between Anthony and the other lion, and appears to be defending Anthony.
Anthony is 350 pounds, while Riley weighs in at about 25. But that doesn’t seem to matter.
“They play with each other all day,” Kraft said. “If you’re looking for one, just look for the other, and you’ll find them within five six, seven feet from each other. They sleep together, they chase each other. When we give them little snacks, she steals the food right out of his mouth.”
Kraft said the lion has never hurt the coyote, and, in fact, Riley is the one who is in control. He said that because the coyote has been around cats all of her life, he has speculated that she may think she is a cat.