Coalition building between Sampson and Nick did not go as well as we had hoped. We decided not to continue their introductions; since they did not like each other very much, we were not going to force the issue.
Instead, we decided to do fence-line introductions with Nick and Amani’s boys (Ashaki, Zephyr, and Pounce) who are five months younger than Nick. We let them bond through the fence while giving Amani’s boys some time away from their family. It seemed like they all really liked Nick and enjoyed running the fence line with him. We decided that instead of introducing Nick to all three males we would move forward with full introductions with Ashaki and Nick.
The introductions went very well. They are now living together full time. Zephyr and Pounce are also a coalition and are separated from their mother and sisters now that they are 17 months old. We will begin Damisi and Savanna’s separation from Amani shortly since we plan to breed Amani again in the spring. Amani has been going into estrus a lot lately and seems ready for a new adventure, and so are we!
Zazi and Maggie left this morning for their new home at the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas. Their new enclosure has a fake termite mound and a really nice downed tree for them to climb on. Their new keepers told us that Zazi has already homed in on the kudu next door, and they are pretty sure she wants to eat them! Zazi and Maggie have also heard the blue cranes vocalize and the Ankole cows mooing in the distance. They will be great exhibit cats for the zoo.
Maggie will probably be approved to breed in the future and, when she is old enough, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) will determine what facility she will be sent to for breeding. We were sad to see them leave us, but we are excited for their new adventure. Check out their new exhibit!
Amani’s cubs have already turned one year old! They are such big kids now. They are still really playful but look almost like adults. Ashaki and Pounce are the largest of the five weighing a little over 80 pounds, and Damisi is still the smallest at 63 pounds.
I am able to work with each individual cub now, and I have trained them to accept Frontline applications, scale, and crate training. I will be working on injection training for the future. They have been moved to another yard and have been having fun exploring. We threw a birthday party for them last Friday. Their “cub cake” was made out of meat and bloodsicles layered together with bones and rats frozen into it. They loved it! They shared very well, and their mother Amani helped them enjoy their cake too. They also had streamers, wrapped boxes and gift bags with treats inside.
On March 28, Amani and her five cubs moved to a new yard! The move went very well. We opened the gate, and Amani had no hesitation and went right out to explore. The cubs needed a little urging to leave their home and to follow their mother, but once they were in “lovers’ lane” they went right into the open gate of their new home. They are doing very well in their new yard. They are now located along the road and are more visible. They have the same neighbor, Sanurra, but now they have other neighbors across from them as well. They love lying on their mound as you can see in the pictures. They are almost 11 months old and now weigh between 58 and 78 pounds!
Amani’s cubs have been enjoying having access to the yard next door to their home. They have experienced having a neighbor and have enjoyed investigating a new enclosure. Our new female from South Africa, Sanurra, is their neighbor. She has been very nice to the cubs and enjoys running the fence line with them. Amani’s cubs are now 10 months old and have been enjoying new tasty additions to their diets and have started eating separately. I am still weighing them weekly. They are huge! Ashaki the largest male now weighs 30 kilograms (68 pounds) and Damisi our smallest female weighs 23 kilograms (52 pounds). The other female cub Savanna has learned how to jump on top of the huts so she can get a better view of things. They keep me laughing all day!
We have started the process of building our new cheetah coalition between Nick and Sampson.
Nick is now 14 months old and Sampson (Sam) is 20 months old. Sam is still very playful and it has seemed to us since he arrived here from South Africa in September of 2011 that he would like to have a buddy. Nick is at the age where we are starting to separate him slowly (what we call a “soft separation”) from his foster-mom, Zazi, and foster-sister, Maggie. For about the last month, Nick has been spending his days in the yard next to Sam, with one yard between him and his family. At first, Nick was unsure of Sam and was a little aggressive toward him on the fence. Sam still just seemed to want to play with a new friend!
Recently, we have started feeding Nick in the building with Sam. They are doing very well getting used to each other and we see less aggression between them on the fence. Nick has also started spending some nights in the yard next to his family so that they have access to each other through the fence, but are not physically in the same yard or building.
The separation process of juveniles is always hard, and it will be even more difficult for Nick because he is a single male. If he had brothers, he would be staying with them for his lifetime. We are hoping that giving Nick a buddy will help the separation process from his family. The next steps are to continue gradually having Nick spend more and more time away from his family and next door to Sam. Then, when we think Nick is ready, we will move Nick and Sam next door to each other on the other side of the facility so that Zazi and Maggie are not nearby and the separation from his family will be complete.