Rikki Power is holding her own as a gorilla”s (second) best friend.

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Photographer: Penny Patterson

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When Rikki Power (left) came on board about a year ago at just 7 weeks of age to prepare for her new role as gorilla companion animal (following the passing of Flower), there was some doubt that she would ever be able to fill Flower”s shoes (so to speak) because of her cuteness and diminutive size.

However, Rikki has turned out to be a super dog: bigger, stronger, faster and more intelligent than we ever imagined; bounding large distances in the flick of an eye, helping us clear branches as we cut foliage for the gorillas, and giving Max (right) a real run for his dogfood. Yet she”s still as sweet as when she was a small pup.

Just goes to show what a little love, high hopes and discipline can do for an animal. (It”s the secret of successful great ape behavioral research too.)