Cheetah and Puppy Pair Celebrate Anniversary at Busch Gardens

Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Kasi and Mtani celebrate their first year of friendship. What a cute anniversary party that would be!

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's cutest interspecies buddies are celebrating their first anniversary! Kasi, a 1-year-old cheetah, and Mtani, a Labrador Retriever with a few more weeks under her belt, were brought together last year when Kasi's mother in Jacksonville was unable to care for him. Mtani was adopted from a rescue in order to provide necessary social interaction for the cheetah cub -- and a year later, the two are fast (in every sense of the word) friends.

For obvious reasons, the duo started off their relationship under close supervision -- and, by the way, where we can sign up for adorable animal watching duty? Both animals were quite young, with Mtani around two months old, and Kasi only two weeks, but the early start actually worked in their favor, explained Tim Smith, a Busch Gardens zoo manager who works closely with the cheetah team and has worked with Kasi and Mtani since they arrived.

"A lot of cheetah behavior is similar to many dog behaviors," he told Vetstreet. Having been lucky enough to visit them in their first days at the park, we had to agree. Watching the two play with their toys -- Kasi favored a stuffed cheetah, while Mtani was a big fan of some of the more indestructible doggie chew toys -- was a lot like watching a pair of puppies wrestling and playing.

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