For Release: May 31, 2007
John Gibbons (202) 633-3083
Sarah Taylor (202) 633-3081
National Zoo’s Three New Cheetahs Make Public Debut
The three new male cheetahs at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will go on public exhibit beginning Friday, June 1. Thursday morning, May 31, the cheetah brothers explored their outdoor yard and were introduced to the media.
The 2-year-olds―Draco, Granger and Zabini, named after characters in the Harry Potter stories―were transferred from the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fla., on April 18, to bolster the National Zoo’s participation in the nation’s cheetah breeding program. The relocation was recommended by the Cheetah Species Survival Program—a cooperative breeding and conservation program with zoos throughout North America.
They spent their first 30 days in the National Zoo’s quarantine facility, where Zoo veterinarians and animal-care staff monitored and evaluated their health. This coalition moved to the Zoo’s Cheetah Conservation Station area May 21, where they will be on exhibit together. The Zoo’s other male and two female cheetahs will be on exhibit separately in adjoining yards.
The National Zoo recently broke ground on the Cheetah Science Facility at the Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va. This new facility will be the Zoo’s cheetah home base for research in animal care, reproduction, endocrinology, behavior, nutrition and genetics. Scheduled to open in the fall, it also will provide a training program for selected postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and interns, as well as animal keepers. Upon completion, the facility will be able to house 15 to 20 adult cheetahs in addition to those on exhibit at the National Zoo.
Cheetahs are the fastest land animals—reaching speeds upwards of 60 miles per hour. Once found in parts of southern Asia, the Middle East and Africa, these cats now exist in Africa, with small populations in Iran and Afghanistan. An estimated 12,000 to 15,000 cheetahs survive in the wild.
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