Wrestling, running, playing – and the occasional bum sniffing – are all in a day’s work for a pair of unusual friends at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
We first told you about the odd-ball friendship back in June when the 6-week-old cheetah was rejected by its mother, but was paired with a 7-week-old Rhodesian ridgeback puppy as part of the zoo’s animal ambassador program. The male cheetah cub, Ruuxa, and his female puppy buddy, Raina, strutted their stuff during a training session on Monday. The dog’s body language helps communicate to the cheetah that there is nothing to fear in new or public surroundings, which relaxes and calms the cheetah, according to the zoo.
Larissa Comb, the zoo’s senior animal trainer, said in a statement that it’s important for Ruuxa to feel confident, particularly in unpredictable environments, which is why they have started training at their future home at the facility’s Benbough Amphitheater.
“We are taking Ruuxa and Raina outside their comfort zone of the animal care center, doing short training sessions with them several times a day, allowing them to have experiences in a controlled environment. Both animals are doing great, progressing very fast, and Ruuxa’s confidence is incredible for his age,” Comb said.
The animals, both little more than three months old, can be viewed by visitors at the zoo’s animal care center from 12:15 to 1 p.m. daily until Aug. 21. Then, they will move to their new him On Aug. 22, the pair will move to their new home.
Photos Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo Safari Park