Cheetahs appear to be fierce, dominant predators, but they are actually very shy and anxious!Cheetahs, like house cats, have some timid tendencies.These “terrifying” creatures are sensitive, introverted creatures who are easily stressed.
This stress makes reproduction difficult, which has scientists concerned about the future of their species.The Columbus Zoo’s zookeepers have devised a novel and endearing method of reducing stress in their cheetah cubs.Each cheetah cub now has their own emotional support dog!
Their goal is to help the cheetahs improve their emotional health by teaching them how to relax and have fun while interacting with the dogs.Learning to be less anxious as cubs reduces the stress that prevents them from reproducing as adults.Dogs are ideal for this task because they are eager to make new friends and lend a helping hand!
Other zoos have used this technique in the past, and it is now being used more frequently for conservation purposes.When the cheetahs are 3-4 months old, they are assigned an emotional support dog, according to the San Diego Zoo.Their friendship does not develop overnight.
It may take weeks or months for the couple to become acquainted.The introduction is done gradually and carefully by first introducing them through a fence with the dog on a leash while they become acquainted.Then they progress to supervised play dates!
Once the cheetah cub and dog are at ease with each other, they are inseparable.Except for feeding times, the cheetahs and dogs do almost everything together.Cheetahs are taught to be more playful by their canine companions.They imitate the dogs’ upbeat personalities, which help to calm the cheetahs’ nerves.
It’s a charming sight to behold.The images are self-explanatory!Cheetahs as a species (Acinonyx jubatus) are currently listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN.Some cheetah species are already critically endangered, including the Asiatic Cheetah and the Northwest African Cheetah.
There are an estimated 7,100 wild cheetahs left, and their numbers are being threatened by farmers, agricultural development, and the illegal trade of live cubs and adults.
The cheetah-emotional support dog bond shows promise in helping captive-raised cheetahs thrive as a species.