An unlikely friendship between a tiger and a goat who was supposed to be his dinner has charmed Russia.

In a zoo in the far reaches of Siberia, predator and prey have become best buddies.

Amur the tiger and Timur the goat's charmed life started in late November, when Amur decided not to eat Timur when the goat was unleashed into his enclosure.

The intention was that the goat would be a gastronomic delight, not a playpal. But instead the two animals appear to have bonded, sharing a food bowl and romping through Amur's pen.


Before this year, they had already drawn enough attention that the Primorsky Safari Park set up a live webfeed of the enclosure.

But they rocketed to stardom when one of Russia's television networks unveiled a documentary ode to their friendship.

Three thousand visitors came to see the pair on one day alone at New Years.

"The situation is really weird. For three years running we have fed Amur a huge number of goats, rabbits, roosters and rams," said Dmitry Mezentsev, the general director of the Primorsky Safari Park. "My only explanation is that this couldn't have happened without interference of the higher power. Amur has never rejected prey before."

The friendship started after the goat chased the tiger out of his sleeping place, and claimed the comfortable area for his own.

Amur, apparently confused that the goat was not properly submissive, went to sleep on the roof.

The zoo has given up feeding goats to the tiger.

Timur and Amur enjoy playing with a ball, one snatching it from the other and running away, as the other tries to catch up.

They are prepping for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Mezentsev joked.