A tale of two besties (cheetah and puppy besties, that is)
A new video uploaded by the Metro Richmond Zoo is making us believe world peace isn’t all that far-fetched of an idea. Because really, if a cheetah can be best friends with a dog, can’t we humans manage to get along?
Meet Kumbali and Kago. They’re besties who like to do everything together. They also might be the sweetest and most inspirational unlikely animal friendship we’ve ever seen. Kumbali was born at the zoo, one of a litter of three cheetah cubs. When he began losing weight, zookeepers decided it would be best to remove him from the litter and hand-raise him since he wasn’t faring too well competing for food with his hungry siblings. Physically, he thrived on bottle feeding. But without his litter mates, he needed a friend. So zookeepers got him a puppy!
Unlike tigers and lions, cheetahs have a flight rather than fight instinct. They’re lovers, not fighters, you guys. The video actually refers to them as “incredibly fast scaredy cats,” which is beyond adorable. Timid as they may be, they’re also super social. Especially male cheetahs. They’re pretty much party animals, and like to form “coalitions” with their cheetah brothers, which sounds oddly like a fraternity. But whatevs. The point is that Kumbali was alone, and that’s sad. Everyone needs a bestie! (Especially baby boy cheetahs.)
See how sad he looks, all alone?
Since there’s not exactly an online matchmaking site for wild animals (note to self: invent online matchmaking site for wild animals), zookeepers adopted Kago, a Labrador retriever mix, from an animal shelter. Yeah, I know. He’s a dog, not a cheetah. But he and Kumbali hit it off like gangbusters. At first, there was a WHOA kind of reaction . . .
But now they’re best friends. It sounds a little nutty. And a lot adorable. Even though these two would never be buds in the wild, they’re inseparable. Dogs have actually served as companion animals for cheetahs in captivity for over 30 years. Zookeepers say dogs have a comforting and calming effect on cheetahs (in other words, they keep their cheetah friends chill). They also help cheetahs become more brave, by modeling less fearful behavior. (Which makes dogs the cutest big brothers a cheetah could ever want.) Cheetahs get so attached to their doggie besties that if the dog passes away, they won’t accept another dog in its place. Aww. That’s some seriously legit bestie loyalty.
Lucky for Kumbali, Kago seems as healthy as can be. The two of them spend all of their time together, except mealtime, because Kago would totally steal Kumbali’s food. Not cool, Kago. But we suppose even besties can’t be perfect. They wrestle together, sleep together, dig holes together, and play chase. And though cheetahs just happen to be the fastest land mammals on the planet, Kumbali even sometimes lets Kago win.
Because that’s what besties do.
Take a look at Kumbali and Kago in their video, which is giving us serious heart eyes:
[Images and video via YouTube.]