Orangutans are not known for their love of the water, but Suryia is an exception. Moksha Bybee has the most unusual of swimming partners, an orangutan named Suryia, who clings to her as she dives beneath the surface. The pair are inseparable and where Moksha goes, Suryia isn’t too far behind. Suryia is able to stand on the bottom of the pool and enjoys nothing more than his high-speed dives while holding on to his trainer’s back.
A trainer at Myrtle Beach Safari T.I.G.E.R.S. Preserve South Carolina, Moksha says she loves all the animals, including the alligators, snakes and tigers. But Suryia is closest to her heart. "He’s gorgeous, we have so much fun in the pool," she said. "He can’t wait for me to turn up for our daily dip." And Moksha says it’s virtually impossible to keep Suryia from the pool on a nice day. The two make an unusual sight as they lark about in front of the thousands of visitors to the wildlife tour in Myrtle Beach each year.
Moksha says that Suryia spent only three weeks learning how to swim and now can’t get enough of his new skill. The Staff at T.I.G.E.R.S. introduced Suryia to their 20m pool when they noticed he had an unusual love for splashing around in the bath. "Suryia’s learning curve has been really incredible," Moksha says.
"To start with, we had him wear a life-jacket but it didn’t take long for him to learn to swim on his own. "His favorite thing is to dive into the water on my back and when I surface he pulls at me almost as if to say, `Again, again’. He also sits underwater and we look at each other. "It’s quite funny."
Diving in the pool head-first into the water for his daily dip at T.I.G.E.R.S., Suryia is the world’s first truly aquatic orangutan. Typically, these residents of the jungle are not known for their love of the water but Suryia appears to have permanently traded tree trunks for swimming trunks, mastering a stroke called "the Borneo crawl".
Suryia and Roscoe, a blue tick coonhound, live at The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (TIGERS) in Myrtle Beach. The pair encountered each other two years ago when Roscoe showed up at the Preserve. He was spotted by Suryia, who came over to introduce himself. They’ve been fast friends ever since. Its a rare case as primates and dogs don’t normally get along too well.
‘They will spend a few hours each day together rolling around, swimming,’ said Dr. Bhagavan "Doc" Antle,the founder and director of T.I.G.E.R.S.. ‘Suryia will take Roscoe for walks around the enclosure and even feeds him some of his monkey biscuits. When they are both feeling a little lazy they will go for a ride on the back of Bubbles, our 27-year-old African elephant.’ That was several years ago and they’ve been fast friends since. Their story has been featured in many articles and TV shows including National Geographic’s Unlike Animal Friends and the story has also been published in book form, to to www.suryiaandroscoe.com.
This is a very special kind of Wildlife presentation with the world’s rarest big cats. With T.I.G.E.R.S you will observe and learn about many rare and unique animals, in a new and completely different way. You will not see animals sleeping or pacing in cages, as you may find in "traditional" zoos. Instead you will have a look at some of the most magnificent creatures on Earth up close and uncaged you can see and photograph the animals climbing and jumping and doing all the natural activities they would normally do in the wild. Why go to such great lengths? Because at T.I.G.E.R.S. people can get up-close and educational view of these glorious beasts. All proceeds from the tour go to The Rare Species Fund and The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species.
For more information on Suryia and Roscoe or the T.I.G.E.R.S. tour in Myrtle Beach, visit www.myrtlebeachsafari.com.