Chendra, the smallest Asian elephant at the Oregon Zoo, was taking a morning walk with some of her friends when someone caught her eye.
Stopping for a breather at the zoo’s Stellar Cove, sea lion Gus swam over to get acquainted.
And, as this heartwarming photo shows, Chendra was glad that he did.
As Chendra grinned and reached out her trunk – seemingly for introduction – Gus raised his head, appearing to want a tickle under the chin.
Sadly, this was the first and last time the two met when the zoo stopped taking elephants for morning walks.
The zoo’s photographer, Michael Dunham, told the Huffington Post that the pair were taken in 2007, adding that the photo was not manipulated at all.
Asian elephants, smaller than their African cousins, are at high risk of extinction. They face danger due to po.ac.hing, hunting, and a decreasing natural habitat.
According to the zoo’s website, stellar sea lions are also threatened – their population decreased by more than 80% between 1965 and 1994.
Protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, there are currently about 67,000 or less in US waters.
According to the zoo, sea lions in the wild are threatened by pollution, habitat degradation, illegal hunting, boating or entanglement in fishing equipment.