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Wed Feb 13, 2013, 03:25 PM

Zoos pair up cheetahs and dogs to help the cheetahs survive [View all]


In this Nov. 29, 2012 photo, Shiley, a male cheetah 3-and-a-half-years-old, and Yeti, a female Anatolian shepherd who serves as Shiley's partner, take a break outside the elephant enclosure during a walk through Safari Park, in Escondido, Calif. Although the dogs and cats live together, they are not always with one another. Dogs have play dates with other dogs and humans, and they eat separately from the cheetahs. Photo: Lenny Ignelzi

"It is all about comforting and reassuring the cheetah," said Janet Rose-Hinostroza, animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park the top U.S. breeder of cheetahs in captivity. In the past 40 years, 135 cheetahs have been born at the park's breeding facility.

The cheetahs most often found at zoos and wildlife parks are not considered good breeding candidates, they don't relate well to other cheetahs, or they are abandoned by their mothers, Rose-Hinostroza said. But they seem to take easily to companion dogs and look to the dogs for play and example.

Of the 19 cheetahs at Safari Park, four have dogs. Four of the zoo's cheetahs also have dogs.

The dogs, usually from animal shelters, and cheetah pups generally are introduced when they are about 3 months old.

"In this relationship, the dog is dominant, but we look for dogs that want to be a buddy," Rose-Hinostroza said. "The dog always has the cat's back, but it's never the other way around. Dogs worry about their cats. They protect their cats."

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/science/article/Dogs-cross-species-barrier-help-cheetahs-survive-4270468.php#ixzz2KoRTh0Hf

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Reply Zoos pair up cheetahs and dogs to help the cheetahs survive [View all]
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