Sunday, April 29, 2012

A cheetah and a dog - friends at Busch Gardens

Watch the video, then read the story here: interspecies friendship .  I'm not a fan of zoos or tourist attractions with animals on display.  This is not an endorsement of Busch Gardens or other facilities like them.  I would like to get your thoughts on this.

Cheetahs, as adults, are generally solitary animals.  I will grant that if there are two male cubs who survive to adulthood, they have been known to stay together once they leave their mother to find their own territory.  In most instances, however, cheetahs are lone predators. 

Since Kasi, the cheetah, was not raised with his mother or other cheetahs, I doubt he knows what he looks like.  That said, I don't see any reason why he won't continue to accept the dog as his lifetime companion.  Of course, once Kasi reaches sexual maturity and if he smells some enticing lady scents in the air, his behavior could change. 

 I don't know for a fact that Busch Gardens does not feed live prey to their predators, but I doubt that they do.  Add to that the fact that feline cubs/kittens are taught to hunt and kill their prey by their mothers, Kasi isn't likely to have much of a grasp on the essentials of hunting, since he never got those instructions.  That should further bode well for this unusual relationship.  Certainly having a companion beats living your life in solitary confinement in a manufactured habitat.  Hopefully, the veterinary staff will make sure that both animals are up to date on routine vaccines.  There are many diseases that both felines and canines share - most notably distemper.

The primary problem, other than the captivity issue, that I have is the segment in the video of the caretaker touching and petting Kasi as if he is a domesticated animal.  That could lead to a tragic incident.  I honestly cannot believe the caretaker did that, especially in front of a camera.

What are your thoughts?


  1. There are many examples of cross-species bonding among animals, both domestic and non-domestic (dogs nursing kittens, a cat nursing a skunk, a tiger nursing pigs, a chimpanzee and a dog, an elephant and a dog). These usually involve some human facilitation, although not always (I remember a great video of a crow and a cat). I wonder if Busch Gardens declaws cats it uses in these types of public interaction programs. I, too, am uncomfortable with wild animals living in captivity. I acknowledge that some facilities provide excellent care and environmental enrichment; sadly, many others do not. I also believe that people will protect what they relate to, and captive animal programs can help broaden the support base for land and wildlife conservation. I really don't know where the line should be drawn. Cindy

    1. Thanks for stopping by & commenting! Hope all is well with you.

      I wonder what percentage of folks who visit zoos, aquariums and other captive facilities actually support the groups actually doing habitat & wildlife conservation. I don't remember too many folks telling us at Save the Manatee that they adopted a manatee or made a donation because of their visit to Sea World. And I remember wanting to jump a woman at the old Sanford Zoo many years ago when she looked at a black leopard & said "that would make a beautiful coat." But then I don't have a lot of faith in the human race, in general.

      Cheetahs are the only cats that don't have retractable claws. It would be like declawing a dog. Have you ever heard of dogs being declawed?

      I googled cheetah + dog and apparently other zoos have matched cheetahs with dogs.

  2. Hi, Connie!

    I don't go to zoos/aquariums where dolphins and other sea creatures are kept because I hate seeing wild animals in captive settings, no matter how "natural" the zoos/aquariums try to make themselves. These animals deserve to live their natural lives in the wild - they are not entertainment or money making ventures for the human species. There are plenty of filmmakers who have documented animals in their natural setting - viewing them this way should be enough for humans and if not, then humans should go to the wild environment to view the animals, ie, pay the money, get on the plane, make the trip and see the animals in the wild and leave them be.

    Of course, I exempt rescues from this - refuges that take on circus animals or injured animals and allow the public to visit. That is entirely a different matter and in those circumstances, bonding with other species may be exactly what is needed for both animals.

    As to the employee petting the cheetah as if it were a domesticated cat - letting your guard down when with a wild animal is not a good idea. I do believe that the wild instinct is still alive in all creatures. So many humans are not astute enough to know when to back off from any animal, domesticated or not. Warnings are always given if one is truly aware of the animal - bites, maulings, etc don't occur "out of the blue."

    I'm with you on having little faith in the human species - so many humans are so disconnected from Nature and therein lies the problem, imo. They see themselves as different, special, superior to the rest of creation and some actually believe that they are able to control Nature, or recreate Nature in a "better" fashion, eg, genetic modification, cloning, etc. It makes me want to scream at times!

    BTW - thanks for the heads up on the movie Darling Companion - I usually don't go to the movies, but I may make an exception for this one!


    1. The whole captivity issue is nuanced. In my rabid animal rights period, I wanted all of them shut down. Maybe I'll do an entire post on this.

      A wild animal can't be domesticated in his/her lifetime, and none should be privately "owned." PERIOD! I totally agree that animals, wild or domesticated, give signals but we humans are just too uninformed/clueless to notice most of the time. I feel all attacks are provoked, but some people define provoked much differently than I do.

      I'm with you 100% on your 2nd paragraph. You must read Rape of the Wild - a feminist, animal rights book. Here's a link: I can't believe the disparity in price.

  3. In South Africa - woman mauled by "tame" cheetahs. The pictures are amazing. She survived.