Today we celebrate Remus, our cheetah companion dog, as well as other adopted pets around the world! Remus was adopted from one of our local animal shelters, Animal Rescue Fund, back in the summer of 2019. He has a very important job here at the zoo: being a cheetah best friend! Cheetah companion dogs serve as a surrogate sibling for solo cubs, playing and providing companionship as they grow. If you want to learn more about the relationship between cheetahs and their companion dogs, check out this blog written by one of my teammates: A Cat’s Best Friend!
When we found out Kris the cheetah was coming to us, we knew she would need a puppy. Trainers in the Cat Ambassador Program visited the local animal shelter in search of a very special puppy, and they were able to observe a group of adoptable pups playing together. Remus stood out instantly because he was playful, resilient, and outgoing. Although Remus was the last of his siblings to get adopted, we like to think they saved the best for last! The rest is history! Remus has now called the Cincinnati Zoo home for almost 3 years and still spends some time playing in the yard with his cheetah.
Each year, 6.3 million animals like Remus enter animal shelters. Because every animal doesn’t find a home, this, unfortunately, means that about 1 million of those animals will be euthanized. When you adopt an animal, you save a life! The Cat Ambassador Program has a history of adopting dogs from shelters, and when we’re in need of a companion dog, we always try to choose adoption if we can!
In addition to Remus, we have had 2 other companion dogs adopted from local shelters in the past: both were black dogs named Cali and Max. Did you know that black dogs in shelters have a much harder time getting adopted? This means that a disproportionately higher number of black dogs will be euthanized each year. There is no evidence to suggest that black dogs are any different than any other dog, but sometimes they can be portrayed as “scary” or “vicious,” which of course is not true. Cali and Max were both great at their jobs here at the zoo, and now live the luxurious retired life with loving families outside the zoo.
Are you considering adding a pet to your family? The first step is research! Make sure to understand the needs and costs associated with sharing your home with a dog or cat. Be sure to check local animal shelter websites or attend local shelter events. Just like Remus and Kris, you may just find your new best friend!
Even if you are allergic to animals (ironically, I myself am allergic to domestic cats), there are plenty of other ways to help local animal shelters. You can always donate money if you’re able, but one of the best ways to help is by donating items from a shelter’s wish list! Most of the time, animal shelters have a list of items that they’re in need of on their website. Some common items used by animal shelters frequently are paper towels, newspapers, blankets, and towels.
If you’re an animal lover but are unable to adopt a pet of your own, a great way to help out (and get some serious cuddle time!) is by volunteering for your local animal shelter. Coincidentally, volunteering for a local animal shelter was how I got my start in the animal world. Shelters are often understaffed and need extra hands, and taking care of abandoned animals can be very rewarding- both for you and for them. And hey you never know, you may just find our next cheetah companion dog!
On your next visit to the zoo, be sure to stop by the Kroger Cheetah Encounter– you might even get to see cheetah companion dogs playing in the yard!