This week Busch Gardens celebrated a milestone anniversary for a special relationship between a dog and cheetah.Matt Marriott/Busch Gardens Tampa
By Lisa Granshaw and Lisa Granshaw and Lisa Granshaw
A cheetah and a Labrador becoming best buds may seem like an unlikely friendship if there ever was one. But odd as it may seem, these pals with paws are keeping their relationship alive and kicking!
This Monday marked the one-year anniversary of park guests seeing Kasi, a male cheetah cub, and Mtani, a female yellow Labrador retriever, strike up a lasting friendship at Busch Gardens Tampa.
At the start this odd couple only spent supervised play time together, but now, a year later, the two live together full-time at the park’s Cheetah Run habitat.
Though this is the first cub-puppy combo for Busch Gardens, it is not uncommon in the zoological community for a single cheetah to be raised with a canine companion.
“Male cheetahs are social and often live together in coalitions,” said Tim Smith, a zoo manager who works with the cheetah team daily. “This social bond will be a very similar relationship, and they will be together for life.”
Kasi and Mtani spend their days playing, training, exercising, and even traveling to schools and events to highlight the plight of cheetahs in the wild and the importance of conservation efforts.
Park guests can see Kasi and Mtani daily at Cheetah Run in Busch Gardens Tampa.
Kasi and Mtani help spread the word about conservation by going to schools and other events. There are only about 12,400 cheetahs left in the wild
Kasi and Mtani exercise with the habitat’s lure system, designed to encourage the animals to do what cheetahs (and dogs) do best: run and chase
As funny a pair as these two may be, the park’s animal experts expect their friendship to last a lifetime!
Lisa Granshaw is a writer and producer for TODAY.com. She was reminded of the Disney song “Best of Friends” from “The Fox & the Hound” when writing this story.