This is true! The zoo where I volunteer (the illustrious Columbus Zoo & Aquarium) was one of the pioneers of this program.
Our zoo is known for raising cheetah cubs. Cheetahs have a terrible infant mortality rate and cubs are often rejected, so we get a lot of cubs to raise from all over the country (other zoos and sanctuaries, mostly).
The cubs are placed with a puppy friend when they are wee and small, so they grow up together like littermates. They play together, wrestle, and the dogs (yellow Labs) are so calm, friendly and well-socialized that the cheetahs take behavioral cues from them. When they meet new people, or go into new situations (which they often do, as ambassador animals for cheetah conservation), they check out if their dog friend is feeling chill - which he is - and then they know it’s okay for them to be chill, too.
Basically the dog is a service animal for them.
The cats need their dog friends less and less as they get older and more comfortable, but they still often hang out as grownups.
Our zoo does cheetah runs, where the cheetahs get to chase a lure and show off their speed. Often they’ll have one of the cheetahs run (we have like twelve cheetah), and then they’ll have one of the dogs do the run to show how much faster the cats are. People get a kick out of that. The dogs…let’s just say they try their best.
found @ 32 likes ON 2020-01-08 12:40:22 BY ME.ME