A cheetah cub and a dog have become the best of friends at Canberra's National Zoo in Australia.
The 4-month-cub named Solo was born alone, which is extremely rare for the animal. His mother had trouble producing milk for a single cub so zookeepers Aline Ijsselmuiden and Kyle Macdonald hand raised the animal.
"I would wake up three times a night to feed him," Ijsselmuiden said.
Solo’s keepers realized the cub needed a friend to teach him social skills as humans could not do so, so they found a private dog breeder to get Solo a puppy friend.
The zookeepers adopted Zama, a border collie-cross-Belgian Malinois, because he will grow to be a comparable size to Solo. They also wanted to make sure Zama could keep up with Solo as they grow. The pair has already hit it off.
"Solo has learned from Zama and loves her — if she's not around, he will call for her," Ijsselmuiden said. "Having a best friend/puppy will help his development, so it'll allow him to play and run around as they would normal[ly] as he can't do that with us.
Zookeepers plan to let the relationship between the friends develop. If they outgrow their friendship, Zama will be adopted into a regular home, zookeepers said
Solo and Zama can only be viewed through private encounters organized through the zoo or by Jamala Wildlife Lodge guests.
They are expected to be moved to public display in the coming months, when a larger display is built.