Emmett, cheetah famous for lifelong friendship with Labrador retriever, has died — rest in peace

Sometimes the most precious friendships form between animals of different species. These stories inspire people across the world with a message of seeing past differences.

One of the most famous of these stories was the friendship between a cheetah named Emmett and a dog named Cullen, who became inseparable pals at the Columbus Zoo.

But sadly, the zoo announced yesterday that Emmett has died 💔😢

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, in Ohio, announced the passing of one of their most famous animals yesterday. “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Emmett, a cherished member of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium family,” they wrote on Facebook.

“Emmett was more than just a cheetah; he was a symbol of resilience, companionship, and the incredible bond that can form between animals and humans.”

Born in 2016, Emmett was rejected by his mother due to health complications and was nursed back to health by zoo staff. Once his health stabilized, the orphaned cheetah cub made an unlikely best friend: a Labrador retriever pup named Cullen.

Cullen serves as one of the zoo’s “cheetah dogs.” Dogs are known to calm down naturally skittish cheetahs, so they’re often paired up for emotional support. But when Cullen was paired with this orphaned cheetah, they formed a truly inspirational bond.

The two became inseparable best friends, with Cullen acting as Emmett’s surrogate family and boosting his confidence. Photos and videos of the two playing together inspired people around the world, becoming a heartwarming viral story.

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

Thanks to his lifelong friendship with Cullen, Emmett grew into a strong and confident cheetah who delighted guests at the zoo and acted as an ambassador for his species.

In addition, Emmett would go on to save other cheetahs by donating to the cheetah blood plasma bank. “Emmett’s willingness to help other cheetahs, even as he brought joy to millions of Zoo guests, showcases his remarkable spirit,” the zoo wrote in their statement.

Emmett inspired countless people during his unlikely life, but sadly he faced a number of health issues recently; the zoo says he passed away after being sedated for a medical evaluation after they noticed changes in his blood work.

The staff remembered his life, saying he enjoyed “racing at top speed in the Watering Hole,” meeting people and foods like ice treats and shank bone.

Emmett is survived by his best friend: the zoo says Cullen will continue to be an important part of their cheetah care team.

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

Rest in peace, Emmett! You will be missed by so many, including your best friend Cullen 💔😢 We’ll always remember your inspiring friendship.

Please share this story in memory of Emmett.