In 2019, Turtle Back Zoo became the home for an unusual pair – Nandi the cheetah and Bowie the Labrador retriever. Having been raised together, the two are best friends and can be seen playing and cuddling most days at the zoo. Their connection does more than provide Nandi with a playmate; Bowie is trained to comfort and support his friend. As an ambassador animal, Nandi partakes in educational programs to promote change for the global cheetah population, and Bowie helps her remain calm during these events. Because cheetahs are nervous animals, pairing them with emotional support dogs has become a common practice within zoos, but as it turns out, dogs may be the answer to combating a threat to the global wild cheetah population.
In 2021, The Zoological Society of New Jersey contributed to the Cheetah Conservation Fund to promote change for the wild cheetah population. This Fund created a program that provides Livestock Guarding Dogs (LGDs) to local farmers within the natural cheetah habitat, to prevent retaliation hunting of cheetahs. The Fund raises Anatolian shepherds and Kangal dogs, two breeds used in Turkey to guard livestock against bears and wolves. The size and loud bark of the dogs scares predators away from otherwise vulnerable livestock, and in doing so the dogs reduce the likelihood of farmers trapping or hunting cheetahs.
Through membership purchases, donations, and other funds raised, the Society is able to continue with its commitment and contributions to conservation, in order to protect endangered species and their habitats.
Interested in aiding our commitment to conservation?
Become a Member of Turtle Back Zoo or Donate to the Zoological Society of New Jersey.
 CBS New York. “Best Friends with a Purpose: Cheetah Has a Therapy Dog at the Turtle Back Zoo.” CBS New York, CBS Broadcasting Inc, 3 Feb. 2020, https://newyork.cbslocal.com/2020/02/03/cheetah-therapy-dog-turtle-back-zoo/.
 “Holistic Conservation Strategy • Cheetah Conservation Fund.” Cheetah Conservation Fund, Cheetah Conservation Fund, 27 May 2020, https://cheetah.org/about/what-we-do/conservation/.