Six weeks ago, the zookeepers at San Diego Zoo Safari Park were thrilled to discover that one of their cheetahs had given birth to a cub. Sadly, though, the mother rejected her cub, leaving the little male, named Ruuxa, on his own. Of course he’s got the zoo staff to look after him — but animals need other animals around, and poor Ruuxa doesn’t even have any brothers or sisters.
That’s where Raina comes in. A seven-week-old Rhodesian ridgeback puppy, Raina has been introduced to Ruuxa, with the zookeepers’ intent being that they’ll grow up together and acts as lifelong companions to each other. Happily, the two babies have taken wonderfully to each other — they’re already fast friends, and you guys. They are so. Flippin’. Cute. For reals.
Cheetahs are usually born in litters of three to five cubs; however, they can also be born singly like Ruuxa, and when that happens, the mother often abandons the cub (survival instinct is a bitch). Said animal training manager Susie Ekard in a press release, “Because the cheetah was by himself and did not have any siblings we wanted him to have a companion immediately. They definitely like to play together, and when they take naps together, they often will snuggle up together for that warmth and closeness.” Awwwww!
According to Inquistr, it’s not completely out of the ordinary for cheetahs to be paired up with domestic dogs; animal experts say that cheetahs feel comfortable with dogs due to their generally friendly body language and less aggressive nature. That certainly seems to be the case with Ruuxa and Raina, who, in addition to snuggling together while sleeping, play together for hours at a time. As the Huffington Post notes, though, Raina may want to think twice about challenging Ruuxa to a race — researchers determined last year that cheetahs can run twice as fast as Usain Bolt, and that their power to rapidly accelerate is what puts them a head above the rest.
But I doubt any competition between these two is going to be anything but friendly. I mean, just look at them — they’re BFFs already, and it is so adorable I can barely stand it. May you have many happy years together, Ruuxa and Raina!