If you follow the zoo, I’m sure you’ve seen our 2 newest (and cutest) additions to the Cat Ambassador Program (CAP): Rozi and Daisy! Rozi is a cheetah cub that came to us from Wildlife Safari in Oregon. She was a single cub and couldn’t be cared for by her mom, so she came to live here in the CAP where we can raise her to be a healthy, happy, and successful ambassador cheetah!
Because Rozi was a single cub and cheetahs normally grow up with siblings, we knew she needed a puppy companion. Luckily, we were able to adopt an adorable puppy, Daisy, from one of our local animal shelters to be Rozi’s new companion. Daisy was the smallest puppy in her litter, but she was the most playful and loved chasing her siblings! If you’re interested in learning more about the relationship between cheetahs and their companion dogs, check out this blog post written by one of my fellow trainers: A Cat’s Best Friend
Rozi is my first cheetah cub as a trainer here in the CAP, and even though I met Kris when I was a seasonal keeper, I’m so excited to get to be a part of Rozi’s care and training this time around! When Rozi first got here, she was living up at our hospital. We wore scrubs and took our shoes off to make sure we weren’t bringing any outside germs that could harm her until she was completely vaccinated. When we adopted Daisy, she also started at the hospital for her quarantine period with Rozi. This is where they started spending time together and becoming friends!
One of the most important parts of this process has been introducing Daisy and Rozi to each other through short, monitored play sessions. At first, Rozi wasn’t so sure about Daisy, but I wouldn’t be a huge fan of something that barks as loud as Daisy does either! Over time, they started to get used to one another and even started playing near each other. Once Rozi had received enough of her vaccinations, she was safe to come up to our building. To get her used to the building and to help her get more comfortable, me and the other CAP trainers stayed overnight (on a futon in our kitchen!) until they grew accustomed to the space. My first overnight shift was so much fun! Rozi and Daisy played in the kitchen, and once Rozi fell asleep, Daisy and I even watched part of a Harry Potter movie (she decided she’s a Gryffindor).
Now that they’ve been up in the building for a bit now, they’re definitely well-adjusted and loving life in the CAP! Trainers are still staying late to make sure Rozi and Daisy get their evening meals, and to make sure they get a fun van ride to get them used to it. Rozi will also start her training, learning to do behaviors like “sit,” “crate,” and even walking on leash. The duo is also exploring the large cheetah encounter yard and are excited to explore every inch of it. One of my favorite things to do with Rozi in the yard is play with our lunge toy, which is a wiffle ball on the end of a long string. This activity is great practice for running after the lure someday! Daisy’s current favorite activities are playing in the pond and running around with Moose and Remus, our other cheetah companion dogs.
There are no set times for Rozi and Daisy playing in the yard, as we just do it whenever it’s best for them and our schedule. Many people have asked when Rozi is going to be in our cheetah encounters, and the answer is not for a while! Hopefully next summer we will see Rozi running in the Kroger Cheetah Encounters alongside our other cheetah ambassadors!