The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Cheetah Conservation Station is home to more than just cheetahs. Zebras, red river hogs, sitatunga and Abyssinian ground hornbills all reside here as well—along with some of the most threatened species in the world, including Dama gazelles and scimitar-horned oryx. Several animals at the Cheetah Conservation Station share space in mixed-species exhibits, providing the animals an opportunity to interact just as they would in their native habitats.
Scientists at the Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have been studying the behavior, breeding and health of many species at the Cheetah Conservation Station. At SCBI, biologists collect behavior and hormone data on cheetah populations to optimize breeding success. The Zoo’s reproductive physiologists pioneered artificial insemination techniques for the scimitar-horned oryx to ensure reproduction between valuable but behaviorally incompatible pairs. Like cheetahs and oryx, maned wolves and Dama gazelles participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. Staff at SCBI are working to understand reproductive behavior and physiology, parental behavior, infant behavior and development, nutrition, health and disease of these species.
The Zoo’s Gabon Biodiversity Program has been on the front lines of integrating conservation needs with development priorities to sustain biodiversity in Gabon and training the next generation of conservation practitioners. The Gamba Complex of Protected Areas in southwestern Gabon is rich in biodiversity, encompassing many habitat types and species of concern, including gorillas, forest elephants and sea turtles.