The claws are coming out, but what’s a little rough-housing between two really adorable friends?
Cheetah cub Ruuxa and his dog pal Raina, now over three months old, are getting the chance to explore new areas of the San Diego Safari Park.
The unlikely best friends were paired up by zookeepers after Ruuxa was rejected by his mother. Cheetahs are typically born in litters, but when a single cub is born, the mother often abandons it.
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So to help the tiny cub navigate the outside world, the zoo introduced him to Raina, a Rhodesian ridgeback puppy.
The duo are training to be part of the Safari Park’s “animal ambassador” program, which has enlisted four furry pairs.
Developing a special kinship as they are raised together, the dog helps the cheetah stay calm in new and public settings. Zookeepers hope to train Ruuxa to become one of the animals on display at the Park’s Cheetah Run experience.
But his training is much cuter than, say, a Rocky fighting montage. The zoo released video this week of Ruuxa and Raina’s work together, which included a lot of playful tackling, nipping and nuzzling.