Busch Gardens recently took in a cheetah cub whose mother wasn’t caring for it. The 8-week-old cheetah now has a new friend: a 16-week old female yellow Labrador puppy.
The pair, who were introduced over the weekend, have been spending time together playing each day. The pair will eventually live together, and travel together to help educate the public about the plight of wild cheetahs. They will become ambassadors of Busch Gardens’ conservation efforts.
Busch Gardens is even having a contest to name the duo on their Facebook page with the winning names being announced on April 18th, 2011. Visitors to Jambo Junction, in the Nairobi area of the park, will be able to see the cheetah and puppy at selected times in the day starting on April 16,2011. You can also see more adorable images of the pair interacting together on their page, and learn more about their conservation mission.
Although this is Busch Gardens’ first cub-and-puppy combo, it is not uncommon in the zoological community for a single cheetah to be raised with a canine companion.
“Male cheetahs are social and often live together in coalitions,” said Tim Smith, one of Busch Gardens’ animal curators. “This social bond will be a very similar relationship, and they will be together for life.”
Cheetahs are included on both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species as well as on the US Endangered Species Act list of threatened species. Only approximately 12,400 cheetahs remain in the wild.
Busch Gardens supports the conservation of and education about cheetahs through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which has donated nearly $100,000 to cheetah efforts in Africa since 2005 and also helps fund conservation programs for white rhinos, marine animals and many other species around the world.
photo from: Busch Gardens