Elizabeth Lavin

Animals

How a Cheetah and a Labrador Retriever Became Best Friends

Winspear and Amani are celebrating five years of companionship at the Dallas Zoo this month. It's as cute as it sounds.

The Dallas Zoo’s most famous duo is celebrating five years of life and companionship this month. Winspear, a cheetah born July 8, and Amani, a Labrador retriever born July 10, have been living together at the zoo since they were just 6 weeks old. The two species had been paired before at other zoos around the country, but this was the first such attempt in Dallas.

Although it may seem unusual for cats and dogs to form close bonds, these two are inseparable. Cheetahs instinctively bond with their brothers out in nature and form what’s known as a coalition. After Winspear’s twin brother, Kamau, died from a respiratory illness four years ago, the cat forged his coalition with Amani.

Together they help educate the public about wildlife conservation and the threat of extinction cheetahs face in the wild. As they travel to hospitals, schools, and private events throughout North Texas, Amani keeps his feline friend calm and confident, and Winspear helps people connect with Africa’s most endangered cat. There are fewer than 8,000 in existence, down from 100,000 a century ago, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and the world’s fastest land mammal is already extinct in more than 20 countries.

For the pair’s birthday party at the Cheetah Encounter in ZooNorth on July 6, zoo chefs and nutrition specialists created a giant frozen cake made with condensed milk, meat, and ice—devoured in the cutest way possible. The celebration was open to the public, but if you missed it, fret not. You can pay Winspear and Amani a visit five days a week at their home in the zoo.

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