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Meet our Cheetahs: Celebrating International Cheetah Day

Today, on International Cheetah Day, we celebrate the fastest animal on land by introducing you to our ambassador cheetahs and how they help spread awareness about cheetah conservation.

Our cheetah ambassadors work with their trainers at the Cat Ambassador Program (CAP)educating more than 150,000 people a year about the importance of cheetahs and other wild cat predators. From April to October, Zoo guests can witness cheetahs running and other wild cats performing natural behaviors during Cheetah Encounter shows. During the school year, CAP staff introduces students to cheetahs and small wild cats during assembly programs.

At 14 years old, Sara is our most experienced ambassador and still enjoys running during shows. In fact, she is the “fastest cheetah in captivity” as she was clocked running 100 meters in 5.95 seconds last summer during a National Geographic photo shoot. Watch the behind-the-scenes video here.

Sara (Photo: Mark Frolick)

Sara (Photo: Mark Frolick)

Born at the DeWildt Breeding Center in South Africa in 2004, Bravo and Chance came to us when they were six months old.  They remain a coalition here, as brother cheetahs often stick together in the wild, and are our only cheetahs housed together.  They spend more time in our Africa exhibit yard than the other cheetahs.

Bravo and Chance

Bravo and Chance

Tommy T was born at the Zoo’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Facility in 2008 and is named after Tom Tenhundfeld, the lead keeper at the facility. He was raised with Pow Wow (the dog), and was featured in the November 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine. He even made the cover!

Tommy T

Tommy T

Tommy T on the cover of National Geographic

Tommy T on the cover of National Geographic

Nia Faye was also born at our Breeding Facility in 2009. We affectionately call her our “wild child”.  She took a lot of work, but she is a great ambassador and is rivaling Sara in speed.

Nia Faye

Nia Faye

Born in 2012, Savanna is our youngest ambassador.  She was the cheetah featured with Zoo Director, Thane Maynard, on the Today Show to promote our partnership with National Geographic Magazine. Watch the video here.

Savanna

Savanna

Savanna on Today Show

Savanna on Today Show

Supporting Cheetah Conservation

In addition to spreading awareness, the CAP also collects donations for The Angel Fund to support cheetah conservation. For 12 years, Cat Ambassador Program founder Cathryn Hilker and a cheetah named Angel worked together to educate people about cheetahs. Established in Angel’s memory in 1992, The Angel Fund raises funds to support a variety of cheetah conservation projects committed to saving cheetahs both in captivity and in the wild. Over the years, the Zoo and The Angel Fund has supported and participated in many cheetah conservation field projects, including but not limited to the following programs.

  • Cheetah Outreach is a community-based education program based in South Africa that conducts school presentations with ambassador cheetahs as well as teacher workshops. Cheetah Outreach also breeds Anatolian shepherd dogs and places them on South African farms to guard livestock in an effort to reduce conflict between farmers and predators.
  • The Ruaha Carnivore Project works with local communities to help develop effective conservation strategies for large carnivores in Tanzania. The mission is being achieved through targeted research and monitoring, mitigation of threats, mentorship, training and community outreach.
  • Cheetah Conservation Botswana aims to preserve the nation’s cheetah population through scientific research, community outreach and education, working with rural communities to promote coexistence with Botswana’s rich diversity of predator species.

A Leader in Cheetah Breeding

With inspiration and support from The Angel Fund, the Zoo also has become a leader in captive cheetah breeding. Since 2002, 41 cubs have been produced at the Zoo’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Facility in Clermont County. The Zoo is one of nine AZA-accredited institutions that participate in a cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC). Working closely with the Cheetah Species Survival Plan, the BCC’s goal is to create a sustainable cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal.

One of the many litters of cheetah cubs born at the Zoo's Breeding Facility (Photo: Dave Jenike)

One of the many litters of cheetah cubs born at the Zoo’s Breeding Facility (Photo: Dave Jenike)

You Can Help

Want to help us save cheetahs? Consider donating to The Angel Fund!

December 4, 2014   1 Comment

A Giant Step Forward for Sumatran Rhinos in the Wild

The Zoo has been committed to saving the Sumatran rhino for 25 years. We work closely with the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the Indonesian Rhino Foundation, the IUCN Asian Rhino Specialist Group and the International Rhino Foundation, to protect this species in the wild, and also propagate Sumatran rhinos in captivity. Despite the devastating blow of the loss of our female rhino, Suci, back in March, the Zoo continues to work to conserve and protect the species.

Considered the most endangered of all rhino species, and perhaps the most endangered large mammal on Earth, it is estimated that no more than 100 Sumatran rhinos remain in Indonesia. The primary cause of the species’ decline is the loss of forests due to oil palm, logging and human encroachment, even in some national parks, and poaching for its horn, which some Asian cultures believe contains medicinal properties.  Today, there are only nine Sumatran rhinos living in captivity worldwide.

Andatu was the latest calf born in captivity. He was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia in 2012 to mother, Ratu. His father, Andalas, was the first calf to be bred and born in captivity in over a century, which occurred here at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Andatu was the latest calf born in captivity. He was born at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia in 2012 to mother, Ratu. His father, Andalas, was the first calf to be bred and born in captivity in over a century, which occurred here at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Just last week, a Debt-for-Nature deal was struck between the United States and Indonesia. In return for lowering the debt Indonesia owes to the United States, Indonesia will commit nearly $12 million towards the conservation and protection of critically endangered species, including the Sumatran rhino, and their habitats over the next seven years. The debt swap was made possible by a contribution of about $11.2 million from the U.S. government under the Tropical Forest Conservation Act and $560,000 from other organizations funneled through Conservation International. The Zoo was proud to help secure this funding by pledging a major gift.

Exactly how the funds will be distributed and applied over the next five or so years is yet to be determined, but the strategies are likely to include 1)establishing intensive management zones in national parks, 2) translocating any rhinos that remain outside of protected areas, 3) integrating high-tech methodologies for rhino censusing and anti-poaching efforts, 4) engaging local communities in intelligence operations and 5) providing economic benefits to communities through environmentally- farming practices.

This Debt-for-Nature swap comes at a critical time in determining the future of Indonesia, its wildlife and its people. One of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet, Indonesia also has one of the highest human populations, placing its habitats and inhabitants under tremendous pressure.

One of Sumatra's last protected forests in Kerinici Seblat National Park (Photo: Luke Mackin)

One of Sumatra’s last protected forests in Kerinici Seblat National Park (Photo: Luke Mackin)

October 6, 2014   2 Comments

Cincinnati Zoo is Ready to Celebrate World Rhino Day!

Over the past year, Zoo staff and volunteers have been getting ready to celebrate World Rhino Day.  This year’s festivities will be held from 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, September 21.  The goal for this event is to raise funds for rhino conservation and increase the public awareness of the major challenges faced in protecting wild rhino populations.  The Zoo is proud to exhibit three species of rhino; the African black rhino, the Indian rhino and the Sumatran rhino.  Zoo visitors can take part in family activities, animal demonstrations, keeper encounters and a rhino-riffic raffle.  The day will start with the official announcement of the winners for our Save the Rhinos poster contest.  The day will no doubt be a Rhinotastic success!

Zoo visitors get to meet our Rhino Mascot.

Zoo visitors get to meet our Rhino Mascot.

Be sure to check out the Rhino Marketplace outside Manatee Springs!

Be sure to check out the Rhino Marketplace outside Manatee Springs!

This little Zoo visitor learns how BIG a rhino footprint is from Keeper Wendy Shaffstall.

This little Zoo visitor learns how BIG a rhino footprint is from Keeper Wendy Shaffstall.

Rhino activity stations, like this one about rhino habitat, will be located throughout the Zoo on World Rhino Day.

Rhino activity stations, like this one about rhino habitat, will be located throughout the Zoo on World Rhino Day.

The raffle items this year include rhino-themed gift baskets, a one-year membership to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Rhino Rembrandt paintings artistically designed by the Zoo’s African black rhino ‘Seyia’ and Sumatran rhino ‘Harapan’, a one-of-a-kind Sumatran rhino footprint casting created by keeper and artist Lindsay Garrett, and an amazing print of Sumatran rhino ‘Harapan’ as designed and painted by artist Ali Armstrong as part of her ‘Scarce Project’.

Cincinnati Zoo Keeper and artist Lindsay Garrett shows off the Sumatran rhino footprint casting that will be up for raffle.

Cincinnati Zoo Keeper and artist Lindsay Garrett shows off the Sumatran rhino footprint casting that will be up for raffle.

Another raffle item includes this Sumatran rhino 'Harapan' print by artist Ali Armstrong

Another raffle item includes this Sumatran rhino ‘Harapan’ print by artist Ali Armstrong

Be sure to also come out to the Zoo on Monday, September 22, from 7-9 pm to hear the State of the Rhino Lecture by CREW Rhino Scientists Dr. Terri Roth.  Tickets to Dr. Roth’s lecture can be purchased online.  A rhino marketplace will take place in the lecture hall before and after the talk and another rhino raffle occur.  In addition, renowned children’s book author Mary Kay Carson and photographer Tom Uhlman will be available before and after the lecture to sign copies of their critically acclaimed book, Emi and the Rhino Scientist.

Come one, come all to help us celebrate rhinos!

WRD Words

September 19, 2014   1 Comment