Cheetah and Dog Friend Celebrate Anniversary together
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Dogs and cats are usually considered as enemies.
Busch Gardens Tampa is celebrating an anniversary for a very special relationship. April 16 marked the one-year anniversary of the first time park guests got to see an 8-week-old male cheetah cub and a 16-week-old female yellow labrador puppy start to strike up a friendship that the park’s animal experts expect to last a lifetime.
The pair — later named Kasi and Mtani — spent only supervised play times together at first. Now, a year later, they live together full time at the park’s Cheetah Run habitat and even travel together to schools, events and television studios, helping the park’s education team teach the public about the plight of cheetahs in the wild and the importance of Busch Gardens’ conservation efforts.
Kasi is the Cheetah and Mtani is the dog. Kasi’s mother abandoned Kasi because he was the only one alive in the litter. He was born in Jacksonville. Buscha Gardens Tampa took him in shortly before opening their new ride “Cheetah Hunt.” His first birthday was in March 2012!
According to zoo officials, Cheetahs are highly social animals and want to form strong companionships with their peers. As there were no other young cheetahs at the facility, Kasi’s keepers found him a friend in a equally loving yellow labrador — and a year later, the pair is inseparable.
“This social bond will be a very similar relationship, and they will be together for life,” say zoo manager Tim Smith.
Cheetahs in the wild are listed as a threatened species, numbering in just the thousands, though Kasi and Mtani have done wonders to raise awareness of this fact, inspiring donations towards wildlife conservation from folks who might otherwise not think to help.