Kris and Remus will likely live together for about two years, acting as each other's sibling in the meantime

By Kate Hogan
October 04, 2019 05:43 PM

Kris the cheetah has a new bestie — who happens to be a dog.

The cub was born on July 7 at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Clermont County breeding facility. Unfortunately, her two siblings died, and because of that, her mom Neena wasn’t making enough milk to sustain her, and staff worried Neena might abandon her baby.

Caretakers stepped in to feed and raise the cub, but they needed a little something extra — leadership only another animal can provide. That’s where Blakely the dog came in, to “serve as a role model,” zoo staff told PEOPLE in August. “Blakely will teach the cub animal etiquette and handle some of the social responsibilities, like snuggling, playing and disciplining, that would typically be performed by a mother.”

There was one catch: Blakely was retired. The dog came out of retirement just for Kris, but was ready to go back to the easy life after a few bonus months on the job.

So this week, the Cincinnati Zoo introduced Kris’s new canine pal, Remus. And photos of the two shared by the zoo could not be cuter. The pals met the press together on Thursday morning, really hamming it up for the cameras by running around, sharing toys and playing hide-and-seek.

Sam Greene/The Enquirer, Cincinnati Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA

According to Cincinnati’s WLWT 5 News, Remus is a mixed-breed rescue dog who is about one month older than Kris. And so far, the two don’t seem to notice each other’s differences.

“I don’t know if the dog thinks that’s a weird-looking dog or if the cheetah thinks that a poor cheetah has no spots. I don’t think they put much thought into it,” said Linda Castaneda, lead cat ambassador at Cincinnati Zoo, told WLWT 5.

This is the zoo’s seventh dog-cheetah pairing; in a blog post about Kris and Remus, zoo staff wrote that the idea is all about companionship, giving each lone animal a “sibling” with whom to play and learn social norms — things they can’t do with a human trainer.

Sam Greene/The Enquirer, Cincinnati Enquirer via Imagn Content Services, LLC/USA Today Network/Sipa USA

“Dogs can communicate with cheetahs in a way that we as humans simply cannot,” the staff writes. “As it turns out, dog play is pretty comparable to cheetah play.”

According to zoo staff, there will come a time in a few years when the two animals have to separate, but for now, they’re busy being adorable besties. Once Kris is vaccinated, the pair will be on display for zoo-goers, and in the meantime, zoo staff promises lots of cute moments on social media.

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