BEST mates don't come closer than this.
Anthony Cootes and Bucky have been pretty much inseparable since the Charbray (Brahman Charolais cross) was orphaned about three years ago.
As the once-tiny steer sprouted into a 783kg bundle of muscle and hide, the cowboy-cum-showman's gentle affinity with his four-legged compadre ensured the pair forged a bond that is simply breathtaking.
Bucky loves snuggling his six-foot-something human who casually leans against the massive bovine neck, unconsciously rubbing his worn and calloused hands over the steer's soft white hide.
"I'm absolutely close to him - I love him to death," Mr Cootes, who like most country blokes is short on words, tells ARM Newsdesk.
Mr Cootes, who lives at Gatton in the Lockyer Valley, and Bucky, who hails from Injune, are born entertainers.
The duo will show off their talents during this year's Ekka when they reveal their unusual talents before hundreds of thousands of people in the main arena each evening of the 10-day event.
"We can't give too much away really," Mr Cootes says when asked what exactly he and Bucky will be doing at Brisbane's annual celebration of country life that runs from August 5-14.
"He likes to be jumped, but I can't give too much away."
The Rooftop Express show members take their roles in the Heroes of the Outback spectacular very seriously.
They spent about two hours on Tuesday entertaining a throng of city slickers, including television personalities and school kids, as Ekka organisers gave the media a sample of some of the food, entertainment and displays that will be on this year's event.
Poodle breeders Marty Mason and Chrystal Flauskos will be chasing best of breed honours during the ever-popular canine competition.
The former Mackay miners and one-time Sunshine Coasters will be putting miniature poodle Tango and standard poodle Ashton through their paces next month.
"We're very passionate about it," Mr Mason said as he worked on Tango's extremely fluffy poodle clip in between kids homing in for a hug with the well-groomed fuzzball on legs.
"We love just getting amongst all our friends who are dog breeders as well.
"We also get to see the best breeders in the state.
"It's really good to see what's out there."
Springfield residents Janet Hunt-Silby and Keith Michaels have combined their love for cats and coffee into a pair of limelight stealing showstoppers.
The couple love nothing more than entering their Egyptian hairless sphynx cats Skinny Latte and Skinny Mocha in the feline section of the Ekka.
"They're extremely intelligent," Ms Hunt-Silby says of her adorable cats.
"They're full-on cats, they demand attention - if you don't give it to them they will find a way to get your attention.
"They will do things like knock stuff off benches and shelves."
Skinny Latte and Skinny Mocha were among the most patted animals at the Ekka launch but Ms Hunt-Silby was quick to point out this type of cat needed a lot of work.
"Because they don't have hair, they also lack eyelashes, eyebrows and nostril and ear hair so you have to take particular care to keep those areas clean," she said.
Ms Hunt-Silby told ARM Newsdesk her love of the inquisitive breed was in her blood.
"It's an inherited trait - my mother is also a sphynx breeder," she said.
Kids of all ages took the opportunity to pat their way through a cute contingent of baby goats, lambs, ducks, chooks and pigs on Tuesday.
Six-year-old Chermside resident Thomas Ghidella came face-to-face with a squealing piglet before falling in love with with a fuzzy being with a penchant for double entendre.
Young Thomas had no idea that Agro the puppet was once an icon of the Aussie TV landscape, but the 1990s puppet soon had the little bloke in fits of laughter.
Agro, and his unseen sidekick Logie award winning puppeteer Jamie Dunn, are among a stellar line-up of entertainers scheduled to perform at the 139th Ekka.
Also popping by will be Jimmy Barnes, Kylie Minogue and Keith Urban - or at least their musical doubles.
The trio are expected to draw a huge crowd during the Tribute to Aussie Music shows.
Talking of comeback kids, for the first time in 119 years, the Old Museum will open its doors.
Inside the iconic and historic building will be a massive range of displays including the school garden, quilt and bush poetry competitions as well as the flower and garden exhibition.
RNA chief executive officer Brendan Christou said he expected about 400,000 people to pass through the Ekka gates over the 10 days.
As well as 10,000 animals and 21,000 competition entries, Mr Christou said patrons would get excellent bang for their buck thanks to the special 25 years of Ekka fashion retrospective and a new fireworks display. - ARM NEWSDESK