1010 WINS– This cuddly cheetah named Roketi is the newest addition to the San Diego Zoo‘s Safari Park — and the three-month-old cat is now starting to spend time with some unlikely companions.
The six-pound female African cheetah cub was born at a wildlife center in Texas and was the runt of a litter of six, making her the odd cub out when it came to feeding time with mom. So, animal care staff decided she would have the best chance at a full life if she were hand-raised. Since November 2017, Roketi has called the zoo’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center (ACC) her home.
Luckily, Roketi (Swahili for rocket) began gaining weight and thriving once she had bottles all to herself.
In the video above, we can see Roketi making her way through an animal run to grab a quick snack from a handler who is standing right beside an eager pup. Roketi, mostly focused on the treats, gives the dog a quick “how do you do” before going back to snack-time — and the interaction will probably be the most adorable thing you’ve seen all week.
Roketi has already gathered quite a fanbase at the zoo. She is currently viewable every day (with blinds closed periodically for catnaps), oftentimes putting on a show of agility and speed for onlookers. “She sees her reflection in the window and is racing that other cheetah,” explains Ian Chatfield, a keeper at the Animal Care Center.
When she’s not making friends, Roketi enjoys playing with ALL of the stuffed animals in the Zoo’s nursery. Go ahead, try to only watch the video below only once. We dare you!
Roketi is currently being considered for a role as an animal ambassador for the zoo after becoming familiar with the staff. Honey, one of the zoo’s dog ambassadors will tag along on a visit soon, to see if she and Roketi would enjoy working together. If things go according to plan, Roketi will be heading to the Zoo in early January 2018 and will be joining Animals in Action at the Zoo, and early next year should be making regular appearances in Urban Jungle in the ambassador exercise yard.
-Kayla Jardine/Joe Cingrana