An adorable 10-week-old cheetah cub and an equally adorable 7-week-old puppy have become unlikely companions.
After getting pneumonia, cheetah cub Emmett was hand-reared at a conservation centre in Ohio for several weeks, and was then moved to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
That’s when he picked Labrador puppy Cullen to be his "companion dog" and melted hearts everywhere.
In a post on its Facebook page, Columbus Zoo explained:
Cullen will help Emmett to be more confident and calm as cheetahs are naturally skittish animals. Emmett will travel with Jungle Jack Hanna’s team and be an ambassador for his cousins in the wild, and Cullen will be with him every step of the way!
Suzi Rapp, the zoo’s Animal Programs Director explained why they started pairing the animals together in an interview with CBS News:
If you place the puppy with the cubs, then pretty soon the cubs don’t realise — they think it’s their brother, their sister. What I've learned is that we want our cheetahs to have all the confidence in the world. And we know we can't give it to them, but we know the dogs can.
San Diego Zoo first paired puppies and cheetahs together back in the 1980s, and Columbus Zoo is now a big advocate of the conservation method.
So as well as being completely adorable, Cullen will play an important role in Emmett’s health and wellbeing.