Zoos Are Matching Up Nervous Cheetahs With Support Dogs


The recent controversies over traveling with emotional support animals has revealed another layer to the public discussion. Cheetahs in a zoo environment are receiving the benefits of a pet dog all their own. How this came about and what the results have been is a great story for your coffee break.

Cheetahs: The Most Nervous Animals On Earth?

Cheetahs are built like a spring so that they can clock those amazing speeds as one of the fastest animals on Earth. However, this leaves them feeling, shall we say, wound tight on an emotional level as well. Cheetahs in zoos receive professional care, but they struggle with their high-strung nature.

When You’re Feeling Down, Get A Puppy

Zoos looked around for resources to help. They noticed extensive research and social experience regarding pets and how they improve the health of pet owners. A light bulb went off in their heads and so they tried an experiment. What would happen if a dog and a cheetah took care of each other? How would the dog help? Would the cheetah respond positively? How does one go about introducing different species when both are, in fact, carnivores?

Start Them When They’re Young

The trick was to match a puppy with a young cheetah cub. They would see each other as playmates, not as food. Choosing the right dog depended upon factors such as using a calm and playful breed and selecting confident and dominant individuals. The idea was to provide each cheetah with a friend who could model assertive, confident life skills. Who knew cheetahs could be so shy?

San Diego’s Model

San Diego Zoo has been using this model since the 1980s as reported. Pairing cheetahs with friendly dogs has led to the cheetahs developing a calmer outlook on life as well as a more outgoing personality. A calm, personable cheetah is a happy cheetah, and a happy cheetah is more likely to breed in captivity. It’s important to preserve biogenetic diversity in every way we can to protect animals against extinction. While we work to solve the global loss of species, we can also save some in reserve.

Have you experienced an unbreakable bond with your dog? Did your pets ever provide emotional support for each other? Let others in on the story and let us hear about your animal companions!


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