Six cheetahs, three brothers, one female, and two cubs, live at the National Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station.
The Zoo also houses cheetahs at the Cheetah Science Facility at the Zoo's Front Royal, Virginia, campus. The facility houses cheetahs in spacious, outdoor enclosures, with indoor spaces for inclement weather. It includes an animal-care building to house animal keepers and researchers and allow them to observe, manage, and care for the animals.
The Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding and conservation program with zoos throughout North America. In the wild, male cheetahs from the same litter live together in groups called coalitions. The bond among animals in a coalition is extremely strong, and managers maintain this natural social grouping in zoos. The three males will continue to be housed together.
The Zoo’s cheetahs in Washington and Front Royal are managed as one population and will continue to move between both locations depending on breeding recommendations from the SSP, research, and exhibit needs.
We can tell our cheetahs apart by looking at the stripes on their tails. Every cheetah's tail is unique, like people's fingerprints. Even the two sides of a cheetah's tail are different. Cheetah Fact Sheet
Two cubs were born on April 23, 2012 at the Zoo's Front Royal facility. Due to the difficult circumstances of their birth, they were brought to the Zoo to be hand-reared. In August 2012, They were named after American Olympians Carmelita Jeter and Justin Gatlin. Learn more.
Draco, Granger, and Zabini, three brothers born in 2005, came to the Zoo in April 2007 from White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida. They were transferred to the Virginia campus in November 2009 and returned to the D.C. campus in November 2010.
Their names come from characters in the Harry Potter series of novels by J.K. Rowling. They weigh 104 to 110 pounds each.
Amani, the Zoo's young female cheetah, came to the Zoo in late December 2007 from Wildlife Safari, an animal park in Winston, Oregon.
She gave birth to a cub in December 2010 and five cubs in May 2011.
Zazi, Swahili for "fertile" or "fruitful," was born at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas in 2001. She came to the Zoo in June 2004.
Living up to her name, Zazi became a mother of five cubs—three females and two males—on April 14, 2005. She gave birth to another cub in December 2010.
She weighs about 109 pounds.
There are several other cheetahs at the Zoo's Front Royal, Virginia, campus.
Two litters of cheetahs were born at the Zoo's D.C. campus in recent years: Four cheetahs—two males and two females—born on November 23, 2004, and five cheetahs—three girls and two boys—born on April 1, 2005. All of these cheetahs have left for other zoos.
The litter born in 2004 marked the the first cheetah births in the Zoo's history.
As part of the Cheetah Species Survival Plan, the males have gone to the Milwaukee County Zoo, and the females have gone to New Jersey's Cape May Zoo.
The female cubs from the second litter left the Zoo in September 2006 for Disney's Animal Kingdom. The males went to Lowry Park Zoo in March 2007.