Cheetahs Hang Out With Support Dogs to Learn How to Socialize

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Cheetahs are simply incredible creatures. According to National Geographic, they’re the fastest land mammal, able to reach speeds of 60 – 70 miles per hour. Imagine one running along side you on the freeway! Even though they are extremely fast, exhibit great hunting skills, and have keen eyesight, these spotted big cats are socially skittish, which doesn’t always bode well when they’re kept in captivity. explains that in some zoos, dogs have been brought in to help cheetahs learn to comfortably socialize, and therefore, further conservation efforts. Animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo, Janet Rose-Hinostroza says, “A dominant dog is very helpful because cheetahs are quite shy instinctively, and you can’t breed that out of them. When you pair them, the cheetah looks to the dog for cues and learns to model their behavior. It’s about getting them to read that calm, happy-go-lucky vibe from the dog.”

Last year at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, a 10-week-old cheetah cub, Emmett was paired with a 7-week-old puppy buddy, Cullen. In time, Cullen will teach Emmett how to chill out. Emmett’s new social skills will help as he works in the traveling education group, Jungle Jack Hanna’s team, and perhaps eventually, the cheetah breeding program.