Unlikely Pair Of Cheetah And Dog Entertain At Taronga

Siri which means secret in Swahili was the only cheetah cub born last May to her mother Halla. This was unusual because cheetahs are typically born in litters consisting of three to five cubs. In the wild when a single cub is born, sometimes the mother will reject the cub because it is unlikely a single cub in the wild will survive. As a result when Siri was born, Zoo keepers at Taronga kept a close eye on both Halla and her cub. Ultimately they made the decision to intervene in order to give Siri the best chance of surviving. As a result Siri has been hand reared almost since birth.

Puppy and cub make fast friends

As part of the process of raising Siri by hand her keepers introduced a puppy called Iris to act as a companion and since Iris’s introduction the two have been fast friends ever since. Whilst Iris outweighs Siri in stature, Siri more than makes up for the difference in speed and agility which makes them evenly matched. The two animals play rough and tumble with each other every day and their favourite game is to play fetch.

Entertaining for visitors

The two animals have some private space to themselves and usually spend the day and night together. They only separate when it comes time to feed or Iris takes a walk around the zoo with her handler. The yard they live in has a fence which can be shut to create to separate areas when it comes time to feed. Their compound has a large grass yard that has a large sleeping box which both dog and cheetah both sleep in.

“Iris is one of the best natured dogs I’ve ever seen, she has ‘puppy’ moments of misbehaviour and a wilful streak, but she knows when to be gentle and calm. She has definitely stolen the hearts of the people she works with and meets along the way.” said Unit Supervisor Jen Conaghan.

Will part ways at 18 months

In the wild Siri would accompany her mother for the first one and a half years. As a result her handlers will keep Iris and Siri together until the cheetah becomes a mature adult just as would be done in the wild when she would become a solitary animal. Siri’s handlers are hoping once she matures she will actively participate in Taronga’s successful breeding program for cheetahs.

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