Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Cheetah Challenges

Sidebar: Location Times Two

A key advantage of having two Zoo locations just 75 miles apart is that keepers, biologists, and vets work closely together and are familiar with all the cheetahs. Cats can be shuttled back and forth without need for the quarantine and extensive exams required when animals arrive from other zoos.

The Cheetah Conservation Station is a popular stop at the Zoo's Rock Creek campus. (Mehgan Murphy/NZP)

The ability to shift animals between Front Royal and Rock Creek also means the Zoo can deal swiftly with health and behavior problems. “If we have a skittish cat that is always wired, we will not be doing any service to her or the species by trying to force her to be on exhibit,” Saffoe explains. “We can send her to Front Royal and hopefully avoid stress-related illness.

On the other hand, if Front Royal has ten enclosures filled, and a skittish animal is reacting poorly to all those other cats, we could bring her to Rock Creek. Or let’s say we have a prospective mother at Front Royal, and we’re not sure how she’ll react with other cats around. We could bring her downtown and let her give birth in isolation.”


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Smithsonian Zoogoer 39(1) 2010. Copyright 2010 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.