Cheetah whose best friend was a dog dies at Columbus zoo

POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) – A cheetah who began his life with rejection but became more than just a large cat to Columbus Zoo and Aquarium employees and visitors died this week.

The zoo announced on social media Wednesday that Emmett, who was born at The Wilds in 2016, had died after battling health issues for some time.

According to the zoo’s post, Emmett was rejected by his mother due to his health issues. With the help of the Wild Encounters staff, Emmett’s health stabilized, at which point he chose his own best friend and lifetime companion: a yellow Labrador retriever named Cullen.

“Emmett and Cullen were inseparable, balancing each other perfectly,” the zoo posted. “Emmett’s cautious nature was complemented by Cullen’s confidence, and together, they brought joy to everyone they met.”

The pair were introduced to each other in mid-2016 when Emmett was 10 weeks old and Cullen was seven weeks old.

The zoo said Emmett loved meeting people, racing around the Watering Hole at The Wilds, and food “whether it was a tasty ice treat or a hearty shank bone.”

Emmett regularly donated to the cheetah blood plasma bank, which the zoo said showed how well he was trained and how much he trusted his caregivers.

The cheetah was dealing with health issues for a while, with the zoo monitoring his progress daily. While sedated for evaluation, Emmett died, the zoo said.

“Emmett started his life on shaky ground but grew to become one of our most beloved and impactful residents,” the zoo wrote in its post. “His legacy will live on in the countless lives he touched and the profound contributions he made to cheetah conservation.”

The zoo invites patrons to share photos, videos, and memories of Emmett on social media.

Cullen and the zoo’s other cheetah dog Cash will continue with The Wild’s cheetah team.

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