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Baby Cheetah & Puppy Celebrate 1st Year | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

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Published on Apr 18, 2012

Busch Gardens' Baby Cheetah and Puppy Pal Celebrate First Anniversary Together
This week, Busch Gardens Tampa is celebrating a milestone anniversary for a very special relationship.

The pair -- later named Kasi and Mtani by park fans via a Facebook poll -- spent only supervised play times together at first. Now, a year later, they live together full time at the park's Cheetah Run habitat and even travel together to schools, events and television studios, helping the park's education team teach the public about the plight of cheetahs in the wild and the importance of Busch Gardens' conservation efforts.

Park guest can see Kasi and Mtani daily at Cheetah Run, where they spend a portion of each day playing together on the habitat, training with their keepers and exercising with the habitat's lure system, designed to encourage the animals to do what cheetahs (and Mtani, too!) do best: run and chase.

Although this is Busch Gardens' first cub-and-puppy combo, it is not uncommon in the zoological community for a single cheetah to be raised with a canine companion. "Male cheetahs are social and often live together in coalitions," said Tim Smith, a zoo manager who works with the cheetah team daily. "This social bond will be a very similar relationship, and they will be together for life."

Cheetahs are included on both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species as well as on the US Endangered Species Act list of threatened species. Only approximately 12,400 cheetahs remain in the wild.

Busch Gardens supports the conservation of and education about cheetahs through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which has donated nearly $100,000 to cheetah efforts in Africa since 2005 and also helps fund conservation programs for white rhinos, marine animals and many other species around the world.

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Busch Gardens is one of the best places to visit in Florida. With kid friendly attractions, roller coasters for thrill seekers, over 12,000 animals, live entertainment, and seasonal events, Busch Gardens is fun for all ages. The park is home to one of the largest zoos in North America. It is also Florida’s thrill ride leader with one of the best collections of roller coasters. Busch Garden's sister park, Adventure Island, is a seasonal waterpark with slides, waterfalls, a wave pool, rambling river, and other family attractions set in a laid back island atmosphere.

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