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Cheetahs Are So Socially Awkward That Zoos Assign Them Their Own Emotional “Support Dogs”

They sure can learn a lot from the warm and friendly canines.


Dogs are man’s best friends, but did you know they also make as great buddies for cheetahs? Our canine friends are instrumental in preserving and protecting the endangered cat both in captivity and in the wild.

For example, since the 1980s, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has been assigning emotional support dogs to cheetahs that are part of the zoo’s captive breeding program. Why is this necessary? Well, cheetahs are naturally shy, skittish, and socially awkward, and these are traits that cannot be bred out of them.

Dogs play a vital role in the conservation efforts for cheetahs.

Source: Columbus Zoo

Janet Rose-Hinostroza, an animal training supervisor at the park, explained to ThoughtCo.:

“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.”

When a cheetah learns the dog’s behavior, it is able to feel comfortable in its environment, make better connections, and breed. This is vital to the long-term survival of the rare cat.

Cheetahs can learn from dogs on how to feel more at ease in their captive environment.

Source: Columbus Zoo

The canines employed for the program are usually rescue dogs. So while they help cheetahs become more comfortable in their captive environment, they are also given new homes and a new purpose in life.

The cheetah cubs are paired with their support dogs at about 3 or 4 months of age. They first meet on opposite sides of a fence with a keeper walking the support dog on a leash. If there are no problems, they meet for a play date while still on leashes to ensure safety.

When cheetahs are comfortable in their environment, they can breed and ensure long-term survival.

Source: Columbus Zoo

Rose-Hinostroza said:

“We’re very protective of our cheetahs, so the introduction is a painfully slow process but a lot of fun. There are lots of toys and distractions, and they’re like two cute little kids who desperately want to play. But cheetahs are instinctively hardwired to feel uneasy so you have to wait and let the cat make the first move.”

Once both animals are comfortable and have formed a bond, they are moved to a shared living space where they spend most of their time together. They don’t spend meal times together, however. Since dogs are the dominant partners, they might end up eating all the cheetahs’ food.

Dogs also help in cheetah conservation efforts in the wild.

Source: Columbus Zoo

The Cheetah Conservation Fund’s Livestock Guarding Dog Program, since 1994, has been successful in helping save wild cheetahs in Namibia. In the wild, dogs play a different role to help cheetahs survive. As part of the program, Anatolian shepherds are trained to protect the local ranchers’ goat herds. This is to prevent the ranchers from trapping and shooting cheetahs that try to eat their herds.

What do you think of this partnership?


Introducing Martha, The World’s Ugliest Dog

Martha and her expansive, flapping cheeks won the hearts of the crowd in the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

The cutest and most beautiful are not always the trend, especially in this search for the world’s ugliest dog. A Neapolitan Mastiff named Martha dominated the stage in the 29th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif.

The 3-year-old, 125-pound dog was the audience favorite early on. But Martha couldn’t care less, a report from the Associated Press revealed she was often seen plopping down on stage when she was supposed to be showing off some tricks.

Martha’s winning feature was her expansive cheeks, which flaps like wings when she shakes her head.

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Man Shoots Python Multiple Times To Keep It From Swallowing His Goat

Whose side are you on?

One can’t deny how brutal nature can get. When it comes to predator coming after a prey, the action scenes can be pretty intense. People would easily pick sides because it’s hard not to. So when this video of a man shooting a python who killed his goat was uploaded online, it definitely got a lot of people talking.

Scott Dame of Florida found that a huge python was coiled around his goat and is about to swallow it whole. But with his quick thinking, he shot the serpent multiple times, eight times to be exact, using his .45 caliber pistol before it could devour the already-dead goat.

As expected, people took sides; some thought it was just right for the Florida man to shoot the animal while others blasted him for disturbing the course of nature.

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‘Faceless Fish’ Seen For The First Time After Over 100 Years

The mysterious deep-sea fish had not been seen since 1873.

Despite much hard work and research by scholars and scientists, humans have only been able to explore a small percentage of the world's oceans. There are deeper water territories that we have yet to study, and even more water creatures we have yet to discover. Indeed, the underwater world remains a big mystery.

Just recently, a team of Australian government scientists probing an unexplored area in Australia’s waters found a 'faceless fish' that was seen only once before over a century ago. The mysterious species was first discovered off the coast of Papua New Guinea in 1873.

Scientists found a 'faceless fish' that was only seen once before, over a century ago.

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