The internet is no stranger to unlikely animal friends, and even less so to making sensations out of adorable young animals. The wonderfully rambunctious duo of Kago the dog and Kumbali the cheetah at the Metro Richmond Zoo, is another absolutely magnificent animal friendship that is about to melt hearts all over.
Kumbali the cheetah was born in May and was unfortunately the weakest of his litter. At just about two weeks old, he began losing weight steadily because his mother was not making enough milk for all three of the cubs. In a life saving move, the Virginia-based Metro Richmond Zoo staff removed him from his mother and began hand raising him and feeding him from a bottle. They also had to keep him in an incubator to regulate his temperature. Kumbali made a full recovery very quickly. As he grew, he became more confident in his surroundings, but he was all alone and needed a companion, especially since Cheetahs are the most social members of the cat family.
That’s when Kago came to the rescue. The zoo worked with The Art of Paws and checked out several shelters before finding the 10-week-old Lab mix, who had been rescued from an Alabama shelter with a high kill rate. Kago was given a thorough wash and quarantined before he was allowed to meet up with Kumbali, but the two became fast friends. A little known fact was revealed in the video that the zoo uploaded to YouTube about lonely cheetahs raised in captivity: cheetahs and dogs have been paired together companionship-wise for over 30 years. Barkpost credited the pioneering of the tradition to the San Diego Zoo.
Cheetahs are naturally built for speed, but part of that is due to a flight-not-fight nature. They are surprisingly skittish creatures, and the first meeting between the lab pup and the cub was an unsure one. Soon enough, though, the pair bonded and became inseparable and now enjoy a very beneficial, if still a little odd, relationship. The dog is as sociable a creature as the cheetah, and the nervous and fearful energy of cheetahs is calmed by the trusting and confident natural impulses that dogs have.
“The dog provides a calming influence for the cheetah by giving him behavioral cues. Dogs are less fearful of new surroundings and embrace them with confidence. That calmness helps the cheetah remain calm as well. Their bond has become brother like and the two are inseparable.”
This confidence came n very handy when the two were finally old enough to be moved outdoors, and they are a match made in heaven. The YouTube video shows the two full of life at play. The Daily Mail highlights a particularly adorable and humorous moment when Kago runs off with a toy Kumbali had been playing with, at which point the cheetah is left with no choice but to locate another. There is also an instance where Kumbali decides not to let Kago take the toy and gives chase, but the dog outpaces him. Although, considering that he is much faster than the pup, we can only infer that he was letting the Lab win.
Adorable Baby cheetah Kumbali and rescue puppy Kago become best friends http://t.co/AbmusShgI4
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) October 8, 2015
The zoo does intend to consider reintroducing Kambali to his family, but only if it is deemed safe for the pup. Should the reintroduction occur, Kago would then be adopted by the zoo’s director. In the mean time the cheetah cub and Lab pup continue to strengthen their bond. The video was uploaded to YouTube on October 6 and has since received over a million likes and has been shared numerous times.
Metro Richmond Zoo has Kumbali and Kago on display Monday to Thursday from noon to 1 p.m, Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 1 p.m. and also from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
[Photo Courtesy Of Metro Richmond Zoo]