Relationship between Safari Park cheetah cub and puppy grows - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Relationship between Safari Park cheetah cub and puppy grows

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ESCONDIDO (CNS) - A cheetah cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park that was rejected by his mother has been has been getting to know the Rhodesian ridgeback puppy he has been paired up with as part of the park's animal ambassador program.

``Ruuxa,'' the cheetah, is about seven weeks old. He's been spending a lot of time playing and cuddling with 8-week-old puppy ``Raina.'' The new buddies will grow up as lifelong companions, according to the zoo's blog. Videos of the two have gone viral.

Ruuxa was being raised by hand by keepers since he was rejected by his mother after being born alone, instead of in a litter of three to five cubs. Female cheetahs often reject single cubs because they have a minimal chance of surviving in the wild, according to park officials.

``Because the cheetah was by himself and did not have any siblings, we wanted him to have a companion immediately,'' animal training manager Susie Ekard said via the blog. ``They definitely like to play, and when they take naps together, they often will snuggle up together for that warmth and closeness.''

Safari Park officials said cheetahs selected to be animal ambassadors are paired with domestic dogs that communicate through body language that new or public surroundings are nothing to be scared of.

The dogs also relax and calm their cautious cheetah counterparts because they are comfortable with people. The Safari Park at 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road in Escondido has four cheetah ambassadors.

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