Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Golden News: The Cheetah and the Golden Retriever

I love Animal Planet (the happy stuff, anyway) and fun stories I chase down through the webernet. Check out this great story I found today!

A Cheetah and a Golden Retriever are buddies at the San Diego Zoo!

Zoo names: Karroo and Sven Olaf
Species: South African cheetah and golden retriever (yes, a domestic dog!)

You've probably heard the expression "fighting like cats and dogs." Well, it doesn't apply to this unusual cat and dog duo! These animal ambassadors are a famous Zoo tradition. They delight our guests when they appear in shows, walk through the Zoo, and attend special events.

How did this all begin?
This is actually our third cheetah and dog pair. Many years ago, one of our show areas received a young cheetah named Arusha. This arrangement hinged on one condition: we had to provide a canine companion. Cheetahs, though predators weighing over 100 pounds (45 kilograms), are shy and wary cats. The dog would act as a buddy and "security blanket." So, the head of the show area visited animal shelters until she found the perfect canine personality, an outgoing young golden retriever named Anna.

Of course, one question always comes up: "Why doesn't the cheetah eat the dog?" The dog was bigger, older, and smarter when the pair first met as youngsters. As they bonded, Arusha never realized that he could be "top dog." The cheetah even ate on a raised platform so Anna wouldn't snatch his dinner!

They lived and played together for many years, and no matter where they went, the cheetah always felt comfortable following the dog as she bounced right into any new situation. Finally, when they died of old age, we decided to continue this dog and cheetah tradition. Chobe and Jessie were the second generation; Karroo and Sven are one of three current cheetah/dog pairs. We even have a wolf/dog pair: Akela and Nala!

Sven and Karroo love taking their handlers for walks around the Zoo!

Sven, shown here as a youngster, acts as a "security blanket" to Karroo, helping her feel more comfortable in strange surroundings.

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