Kumbali and Kago Have Been Best Friends Since Birth
Think back to when you were young. Didn’t you play with anyone and everyone who was fun? No matter what they looked like, or where they came from? Right. Me too. As long as they were good at freeze-tag, they were the coolest.
Now meet Kumbali and Kago, two unlikely best friends who have been reared together, and now share a symbiotic brotherhood.
The two met when they were extremely young, and fate has brought the two together in an adorable bond.
Kumbali was born the runt of his litter. When animal caretakers realized he was losing weight because he wasn’t getting enough milk from his mother, they decided he needed to be hand fed to keep him healthy and boost his weight. Soon after Kumbali’s health stabilized, he began running around, licking and attempting to play with the caretakers – forming bonds with them similar to those he would’ve with his family. Sadly, because Kumbali grew so much away from the rest of his litter, if he were to be introduced into their habitat, likely his family would consider him a threat. Rather than put him in an antagonistic situation with his own kind, Kumbali’s caretakers decided on a different route. Cheetahs are unlike other jungle cats in that they’re wired to “fight” instead of “flight” (we all how fast they can run.) So, in order to keep Kumbali from developing into a total scaredy-cat, the his caretakers knew they needed to socialize him with other animals. That’s where Kago comes in.
Kago is a rescue lab from The Art of Paws saved from a high-kill shelter in Alabama. He was brought to Kumbali’s home in Virginia where the two were introduced for the very first time. The two took a LITTLE warming up initially, but soon they were inseparable.
The two don’t recognize any difference in size, color, strength, speed or species.
The concept of cheetah/dog companions was pioneered over 30 years ago, and the comfortable, relaxed presence of a dog has proven beneficial to the more angsty instincts of the cheetah.
As you can see, the two have become brothers. Hopefully, as Kumbali becomes older he will become what the zoo calls an “ambassador animal,” who will represent his species in order to spread awareness about conservation and endangerment. If that’s the case, the two besties will continue to live out their lives together.
You can see Kago and Kumbali together at the Metro Richmond Zoo, where they race, play and cuddle with each other daily.
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Watch them grow up to become BFFs for life!