Much like human relationships, very often, opposites attract in animal bonds. One such unlikely bond was formed by a cheetah and a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The cheetah, Ruuxa, was abandoned by his mother at a young age. Ruuxa’s mom abandoned him because he was the sole cub in her litter.
In such situations, it is a cheetah’s natural instinct to abandon the baby, as the mother doesn’t believe that a single cub can survive alone. Ruuxa was then taken care of by the zoo’s staff. To ensure that Ruuxa wouldn’t have to live his life alone, they adopted Raina at only eight weeks old to be the young cheetah’s companion. The two have been inseparable ever since.
Ruuxa and Raina have been through thick and thin together. When zoo staff realized that Ruuxa was having problems with his front legs, Raina helped him recover from his surgery. The zoo staff told reporters of how close Raina and Ruuxa bonded following the surgery, saying that while they were initially hesitant to have Raina interact with Ruuxa for fear that she would play with his bandages, the pup was nothing less than respectful of Ruuxa’s still tender legs.
After Ruuxa’s recovery, the two have become an institution at the zoo, wowing guests with their playful antics.
While cross-species friendships might appear strange, they are fairly common in animals raised in captivity. Janet Rose-Honostroza, an animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said that the zoo’s intention was to have Ruuxa and Raina view each other as siblings. Introduced at a very young age, Rose-Honostroza says that Ruuxa and Raina’s earliest memories are of each other and that their bond goes well beyond friendship.
What do you think of the bond between Ruuxa and Raina? Have you ever heard of any other unlikely interspecies friendships?