(Reuters) - The Dallas Zoo will raise a pair of cheetah cubs with a Labrador retriever puppy, believing the dog will be a calming influence on the big cats as they grow to adulthood.
The 8-week-old male cheetahs Winspear and Kamau have arrived in Dallas, the zoo said, after a team of experts spent two weeks with them at their birthplace, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.
They will be raised alongside an 8-week-old black Labrador retriever puppy named Amani, the zoo said in a statement on Thursday.
"Zoological experts have found that because dogs are naturally comfortable in public settings, Amani will provide a calming influence for the cubs, as well as another playmate as they grow to adulthood," the statement said.
Cheetahs are endangered with an estimated 10,000 in existence, the zoo said. In the wild, adult cheetahs are the world's fastest land animals reaching speeds of 60 miles per hour (97 kmph), according to National Geographic.
Now weighing about 8 and 6 pounds (3.6 kg and 2.7 kg), the cheetahs are expected to grow to about 3 feet (1 meter) tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 140 pounds (63 kg), the zoo said.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Greg McCune and Bob Burgdorfer