There is no history of mutual camaraderie between dogs and cats. However, it is possible. San Diego Zoo researchers recently found that a dog can positively affect an edgy cheetah. They’re trailblazers in species conservation.
The San Diego Zoo’s unusual friendship
Dogs and cheetahs were paired for the first time in 1980 when Arusha, a male cheetah, was paired with Anna, a golden retriever. They developed a unique and incredible friendship, which showed the remarkable impact a canine companion can have on any wild cat.
At least fifteen zoos across the country have adopted the dog-and-cat buddy system developed by zookeepers in San Diego. Zoos use different dog breeds, but the most popular are labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Anatolian shepherds.
The San Diego Zoo’s Raina and Ruuxa, a cheetah cub and female Rhodesian ridgeback puppy, formed one of the strongest friendships the Zoo has ever seen. During her playmate’s recovery from surgery, Raina watched over him closely, and the two became inseparable as they snuggled during the night and played together during the day.
What is the purpose of pairing cheetahs with dogs at zoos?
Zoos match their cheetahs despite the apparent cute factor, but why? Is this relationship beneficial?
Cheetahs are easily agitated, according to National Geographic. Usually shy, cheetahs in captivity have a great deal of nervous energy. Conversely, a dog has a friendly, confident disposition. Trainers hope their cheetah counterparts will learn this trait from their dog counterparts.
Dogs are yet known for their calming effects, and you have undoubtedly experienced these effects. Cheetahs, in turn, learn to mimic their canine buddies’ relaxed behavior. Cheetahs thrive thanks to dogs’ social signals.
Ultimately, the goal is to preserve a cheetah population at risk of extinction. Cheetahs’ stress and anxiety don’t precisely encourage breeding, so zookeepers have sought ways to calm them down and relax them.
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What is the process of partnering a dog and a cheetah-like?
It takes time for a cheetah and a dog to become friends. It often takes almost weeks or months for them to form a bond.
Zoologists pair cheetahs three months old with a friendly, six-month-old rescue dog. A divider separates the animals to see and smell one another at first. The partition is removed after the pair becomes accustomed to each other, and brief leashed visits are permitted, supervised by handlers.
Check out this video to get a glimpse into the Zoo:
Developing a relationship between a dog and a cheetah is unique, and it can take weeks or months to establish a bond. After creating that special bond, however, the two will spend every waking moment together, as well as sleeping. Their only time apart is during mealtime.
A wild cheetah and a dog
In captivity, dogs with cheetahs form a symbiotic bond utilized in the wild for conservation efforts. The Namibian farmers face frequent encounters with cheetahs preying on their livestock. Farmers kill and trap wild cats as a means of protecting their property and livelihood, drastically reducing their population.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund established a Livestock Guarding Dog Program in 1994 to help save this all-dwindling species. Program participants breed and raise dogs (mostly Anatolian shepherds) alongside herds to protect them fully. Dogs can scare away a hungry cheetah if it lurks nearby.
Since its implementation, the cheetah population has steadily increased due to this clever predator management system. The organization reports an 80 percent decrease in cheetah attacks!
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