Cheetah cubs get their own puppy

Two male cheetah cubs joined the Dallas Zoo population this month, and zoo officials marked the occasion by giving them their own puppy.

Since Labs are easygoing in public settings and since the pup will grow with the cubs, zoo experts believe he'll provide a calming influence for the cats. (The puppy undoubtedly hopes they are right.)

The 8-week-old feline brothers, Winspear and Kamau, were born July 8 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Adult cheetahs grow to about 3 feet tall and weigh up to 140 pounds.

Their 8-week-old black Labrador retriever puppy is named Amani, which means "peace" in Swahili. 

Winspear and Kamau will join the zoo's Animal Adventures outreach program to help teach the public about their highly endangered species.

This is not the first time cheetahs have been paired with a puppy.

A cheetah and a Labrador-mix pup were paired up at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., in April 2011. A blog about the Busch Garden buddies said the two were introduced in short spurts of time.

"Puppies tend to interact with their world using their mouth and kittens usually use their feet, so it took some trial and error for them to begin to speak one another’s 'language.'"

Cheetahs are endangered, and only about 10,000 are left in the wild, according to the Busch Gardens website. A cheetah conservation website says that is down from 100,000 cheetahs in 1900. Most of the surviving cheetahs are in Africa, and less than 100 are in Iran, according to the website.

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