Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo are pleased with the relationship that has developed between hand-raised Cheetah cub Siri and her companion puppy Iris.
Keepers introduced Siri, a single cub rejected by her mother following her birth, to Iris to provide companionship and social interaction during the cub’s early development.
“Cheetahs usually have siblings to play, interact and learn with,” Keeper Jordan said. “Siri doesn’t have this, so Iris is filling the important role of companion and playmate. Singleton Cheetah cubs and canines have been placed together for companionship in other zoos, with great success.”
In the early days Siri was very cautious of Iris, with Zoo Keepers keeping a very close eye on the interaction between the two. The cub was described by Keepers as a ‘drama queen’, often squealing at the sight of the puppy, whereas Iris was very curious about Siri.
Keepers have spent a lot of time introducing the pair and teaching them play time activities they now enjoy together. “We have shown them how to play with balls and tug-o-war toys, and now they do it all on their own,” Keeper Jordan says.
The cub is now weaned from milk and enjoying chunks of meat. She also gets a variety of essential vitamins from supplements added to dry food.
Siri and Iris are now able to be left unsupervised during the day, which is a big milestone. Soon Keepers will start allowing the pair to stay together during the night. Keepers have already seen the pair snuggling up on the cooler days under their heat lamp, so they are confident there will no issues with the two spending the night together.
Siri and Iris are still behind the scenes as they grow and develop. They will spend the months ahead as companions, reaching their own natural milestones. Taronga Western Plains Zoo will provide regular updates on their development.