They're an unlikely pair, but they were fast friends.
When Kumbali’s mother stopped producing enough milk to feed her litter, the folks at Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia stepped in to make sure Kumbali was receiving enough nutrients and growing properly. But after his health had been restored, his family rejected him, and so the skittish cheetah cub was left without companionship.
Luckily, the zoo had an inventive solution. They paired the young cheetah cub with a companion dog, a Lab mix called Kago. Though the two were wary of each other at first, they quickly became friends.
The zoo said that even though the relationship is not what one would see in nature, the companionship they provide one another will support them throughout their lives. “As the two grow up together, they create a bond that becomes almost inseparable, sibling-like,” they said. Kumbali now takes behavioral cues from Kago, allowing the once-anxious cheetah to learn how to confront his environment calmly and with confidence.
You can watch the two of them in the video below.