Cheetahs born at Wildlife Safari
Cheetah Breeding at Wildlife Safari
Wildlife Safari began breeding cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) in 1972 and successfully produced a litter the following year. Since then, 236 cheetahs have been born at the park, making Wildlife Safari the second most successful breeding center on Earth and the top center in the Western Hemisphere. Through our partnership with the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s (AZA) Species Survival Plan for cheetahs, cubs born at the park have populated zoos across the United States.
The addition of new genetics to the captive cheetah population and the promise of their cubs are significant to the propagation of cheetahs. According to breeding recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan, the number of cubs born in the U.S. dropped significantly during the 1990s. Having these amazing cats in zoo populations allows us to educate our guests and conduct research that helps the vulnerable cheetah both in captivity and the wild.
Cheetahs are native to Africa, with less than 10,000 individual cats in the wild in Africa and less than 100 in Iran, with the largest concentration in Namibia with approximately 3,000 individuals. Cheetahs are considered vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to habitat loss, poaching and hunting by farmers worried about their livestock. Cheetahs are flight animals, and tend to run away when frightened. For this reason, organizations like Cheetah Conservation Botswana, one of Wildlife Safari’s permanent conservation recipients, are training livestock guard dogs to chase the cheetahs away, protecting the farmer’s cattle and saving the lives of the cats.
Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal and can reach speeds of 70 miles per hour for short sprints. They are built for speed with a deep chest for large lungs and a powerful heart. They have a stride length (the distance between a foot touching the ground and that same foot touching the ground again) of 20 feet. A cheetah’s spine is very flexible; flexing and extending helps lengthen its spine as it runs. Their hind legs push separately rather than together like other animals, so all four feet are off the ground at one time, giving the cheetah the appearance of flight. The tail serves as a rudder to help steer and as a brake during high speed pursuits.
Wildlife Safari is working to preserve and protect the incredible species collection domestically and internationally.
Wildlife Safari commits funds each year to developing local conservation projects as well as supporting international conservation organizations. In Wildlife Safari’s effort to preserve and protect fragile species, we participate in a number of national programs including the Species Survival Plans for cheetah and elephants as well as participating in felid, giraffe and other plans.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) provides accreditation to only the top 10% of licensed USDA exhibitors in the nation that meet their high standards for safety and animal care.
The Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a major part of being an AZA member which works to cooperatively manage the breeding and care of various threatened or endangered species populations throughout AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, certified related facilities, and approved non-member participants.
The Zoological Association of America (ZAA) upholds the highest level of professional standards in animal welfare, safety, and ethics.
Being an AZA and ZAA member ensures that our exhibits, animal care and breeding programs are the best they can be for the species at Wildlife Safari. The SSP helps us collaborate with other facilities, transferring individuals and sharing our knowledge regarding animal care and breeding. Participating in the various programs certifies the future survival of the individuals under our protection as well as their cousins in the wild.
Click on the links to learn more about AZA, SSP & ZAA.
Global Conservation Support
At WildlifeSafari, we believe that conservation must be a united effort among institutions, scientists and policymakers nationwide, as well as our counterparts abroad. While the work we do at the park everyday is vital to the survival of many species, our work does not stop there. Each year,we partner with two international conservation organizations striving to achieve the preservation of magnificent endangered species in their native lands as well as one rotating current conservation project.
Click on the links to explore more about the organizations we constantly support, Cheetah Conservation Botswana and the International Elephant Foundation.