This is the story of how a cheetah cub (Kumbali) and a puppy (Kago) became friends under a most extraordinary circumstance.
Kumbali is the son of Khari and Hatari. When he was two weeks old, animal caretakers at the Metro Richmond Zoo noticed that he not only was not gaining weight but was in fact, losing weight, making him the runt of his litter. This was because his mom, Khari, was only producing milk out of 2 of her 8 teats. The zoo staff decided to bottle feed Kumbali. [source]
Kago is a lab mix puppy, rescued from a kill shelter in Alabama. And because Kumbali is separated from his family, and male cheetahs are social animals, zoo staff decided that he needed companionship, and Kago was the perfect match.
Over 30 years ago, the San Diego Zoo pioneered the idea of using dogs as companion animals to cheetahs. Although this kind of relationship would never occur in the wild, dogs have been shown to have a calming influence to cheetahs in captivity. And the concept has been adopted by other zoos around the world ever since. [source]
Watch the Amazing Video Below to Learn About Kumbali and Kago.
Watch Video of Kumbali and Kago’s First Birthday Party
Kumbali and Kago have a wonderful bond, and for now, zoo staff will continue to let them strengthen that bond. When the caretakers believe Kumbali can be safely reintroduced to his family they will try. When that happens, the zoo’s director will adopt Kago into his personal home. It’s also possible that the two can live out their lives together, only time will tell.
For more information on Kumbali and Kago visit the Metro Richmond Zoo.