Dog And Cheetah Who Met As Babies Are Still Best Friends Nearly 2 Years Later

If you’re fortunate enough to have a best friend, then you know how just how essential it is to have someone by your side when life gets tough and kicks you in the butt.

Even a cheetah—an animal you might think as a predator with super speed—benefits from that sacred bond! For instance, when Ruuxa the cheetah was rescued by the San Diego Zoo Safari Park after his mother abandoned him, experts knew he needed a friend.

Thankfully, a very unexpected candidate stepped up to the challenge…

Something rare happened to Ruuxa the cheetah on the day he was born: he was the only cub in the litter. Usually, cheetah mothers give birth to anywhere from three to nine cubs, providing plenty of brothers and sisters to act as natural companions. Sadly, Ruuxa was all alone.

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

While he might have been free of sibling rivalries, in the wild, that wasn’t a good thing. A single cub simply can’t survive long on its own, no matter how much love and care a mother provides. So, unfortunately, Ruuxa’s mother abandoned him, leaving him to fend for himself.

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

Thankfully, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park rescued Ruuxa from his fate and provided him with the care and safety he’d need to grow up strong. Still, without any brothers or sisters, park experts knew that Ruuxa needed a friend if he ever hoped to live a happy life. So they found him one…

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

Park experts didn’t turn to another cheetah to act as Ruuxa’s bestie, though. Nor did they choose another big feline. Instead, they picked Raina, an eight-week-old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. “The point of bonding them from this very young age,” said the park’s animal training supervisor, Janet Rose-Hinostroza, “was that they’d have a relationship that would be more like siblings than like friends.”

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

The two friends got along swimmingly! Just as the park’s team hoped, Ruuxa had someone to help him burn some energy and to keep him calm when stressful situations arose. However, neither Ruuxa nor Raina foresaw the stressful situation that was lurking around the corner…

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

Medical experts at the park noticed something off about Ruuxa’s development. His front legs were growing in a bow shape, which would create serious problems when running at high speeds. He had what was called a valgus abnormality, and to fix it, veterinarians would have to operate.

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

So surgeons put Ruuxa on the operating table and worked to give him the normal, straight legs a cheetah would need to prosper. During the operation, Raina actually sat in the room. It was clear that she was concerned about her feline friend.

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

The veterinarians had never seen a valgus abnormality on a cheetah before, so they weren’t sure how Ruuxa would respond to the surgery. Would he be able to walk again? Would he be able to run the way he was supposed to? And would he be able to play with Raina in order to develop the skills he’d need to survive as a cheetah?

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

 Thankfully, the surgery was a success, and it didn’t seem to affect the pair’s bond in the least. “We couldn’t keep Raina away from Ruuxa,” Janet said, “or Ruuxa away from Raina. They were apart for fifteen minutes.” Obviously, they had nothing to worry about!

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

In fact, according to Janet, Raina’s playfulness helped “stimulate Ruuxa’s recovery,” which sped up and assisted in the cheetah’s healing process. “With Ruuxa’s physical challenges, it’s been wonderful that he’s had such a close relationship with Raina to help him through his medical recovery,” she pointed out.

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

On the bond the two animals shared, Janet said, “It has worked exactly as we dreamed it would.” Now, two years since they were first introduced, that still holds true—Ruuxa and Raina are seriously best friends forever!

San Diego Safari Park / Rumble

Ruuxa has come so far since he was first abandoned. He’s no longer the cub who can’t walk properly, either—just watch him reach top speeds at a cheetah run in the video below! And it’s all thanks to his best friend, Raina.

You don’t see many friendships like this between humans—let alone a dog and a cheetah. Hopefully this friendship lasts forever!

Share this cheetah and dog’s amazing friendship with your pals below!

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