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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
You Can Help
Want to help us save cheetahs? Consider donating to The Angel Fund!
One thought on “Meet our Cheetahs: Celebrating International Cheetah Day”
Great post. Thanks so much,!