The Love That Dares Not Speak (or Is That Purr?) Its Name …

Ridgebacks and big cats are supposed to be natural enemies. But there are a handful of Ridgebacks who have gone against type to become the dedicated companions of … cheetahs.


At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a female Ridgeback named Raina has been keeping company with Ruuxa, a cheetah who was rejected by his mother. The two are “ambassadors” for their respective species, and support systems for each other: When Ruuxa had surgery to correct his chondrodysyplasia, in which the forelegs bow abnormally, Raina settled next to him in his crate while he recovered.


The San Diego Safari Park has been pairing cats and canines for three decades, but keepers say the bond Raina and Ruuxa have is the strongest they have ever seen.


Unlikely bedfellows: Raina the Ridgeback and Ruuxs the cheetah. Photo courtesy San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Unlikely bedfellows: Raina the Ridgeback and Ruuxa the cheetah. Photo courtesy San Diego Zoo Safari Park


Meanwhile, this April at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, a six-week-old Ridgeback puppy named Dayo  became the canine companion to a lonely cheetah cub called Pancake. Because, like Raina and Ruuxa, the two were introduced at the optimal time for bonding and imprinting, they are now inseparable, as the National Geographic video below shows.


You might notice that Dayo has a docked tail, which is never done for aesthetic reasons on a Ridgeback; more likely, he had a severe tail kink, which can interfere with the dog’s ability to eliminate unless amputated. And in some very rare cases, Ridgebacks have been born with naturally bobbed tails. (Hmmm … sounds like another blog post coming on!)