When Kumbali was born at the Metro Richmond Zoo his caretakers noticed he wasn't getting enough milk from his mother, and consequently was losing weight. In order to ensure the little cub grew normally, zoo staff began to hand-raise him, with the intention of eventually returning him to his cheetah family when he was good and ready.
But as Kumbali got a little older, his human caretakers wanted to give him something to help displace all his playful energy.
According to the zoo's website, though cheetahs can be anxious and flighty, males are social animals: "In the wild, they form coalitions with other males–usually their brothers. Kumbali was in need of a companion- and not of the human sorts. Man's best friend would soon become cheetah's, too."
So Kumbali was introduced to Kago, a lab mix puppy. And it was a match made in heaven.
The zoo adopted Kago from The Art of Paws, a non-profit animal rescue organization, and it wasn't long before the dog and cub hit it off. But Kumbali and Kago are not the first cheetah-dog duo to become friends, as the practice of introducing dogs and cheetahs in captivity has been happening for over 30 years.
The zoo's website states there are many advantages to such a pairing:
"As the two grow up together, they create a bond that becomes almost inseparable, sibling-like. They provide companionship for each other. The dog has a calming influence because the cheetah will take behavioral cues from the dog — learning not to fear his surroundings, but instead embracing them with confidence. The dog normally becomes the dominant figure in the relationship by becoming the protector and leader. The cheetah will not hurt or kill his friend."
Check out the video below to learn more about this special friendship.
Like this story? Click the button below to share!