Ruuxa the cheetah and Raina the puppy, best friends since infancy, play a raucous game of tag, playfully taking turns chasing each another around the green at the San Diego Zoo, where Ruuxa acts as an animal ambassador.
A 7-month-old cheetah cub, Ruuxa, was full of energy as he sprinted and chased his puppy companion, Raina, during a training session at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park earlier this week. Safari Park trainers observed the male cheetah playfully instigate a wrestling match and tackle Raina, a female Rhodesian ridgeback. The cheetah and dog are often brought to an area at the Safari Park where they can play off-leash and reach full running speeds chasing each other around. These exercise sessions provide Ruxxa with the opportunity to thrive by expressing natural behaviors like sprinting and chasing. This is also an opportunity to help build his muscles and stamina, which will allow him to reach his running potential. “The behavior you see is the instinct of a maturing cheetah to chase and rehearse predatory behavior. Due to Ruuxa’s unique relationship with Raina, he doesn’t actually treat her like prey by swiping her legs out from under her. Instead, he is learning how to tackle and wrestle a bit,” said Janet Rose-Hinostroza, an animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Raina encourages this behavior and enjoys playing with Ruuxa immensely.”
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a few months since Ruuxa had surgery, but as with everything else they do, Raina was right by his side. As he recovered Ruuxa had learn how to walk again, so the duo went on many therapeutic strolls, including this one in September, right after the surgery.