Community & Environment

Cheetah make a return to Hamilton Zoo

Hamilton Zoo is excited to announce they are preparing to welcome four new cheetahs.

The four males will be transferring later this year from Australia. “The Zoo team are thrilled to be able to make this announcement,” says Hamilton City Council Visitor Destination Manager Lee-Ann Jordan.

“We know our visitors have a soft spot for cheetah and have loved those we have had in the past. We regularly get questions about when they might make a return to the Zoo, so it’s wonderful to be able to confirm this.”

Hamilton Zoo was home to cheetah Temba and Kaitoa before they transferred to Christchurch’s Orana Park in 2007 as part of the regional breeding programme. Brothers Moyo Matusi and Jambo took their place the same year after transferring from Western Plains Zoo in Australia and lived out their lives at Hamilton Zoo.

Work began on the cheetah enclosure when the Zoo reopened in May at COVID-19 Alert Level 2.

Ms Jordan says the upgraded enclosure will include multiple viewing areas for visitors and encounter opportunities will feature in the future.

“Cheetah are known for their playful personalities and it will be fantastic for adults and children alike to see them up close, to connect with these beautiful cats and learn all about them and their cheetah family in the wild.”

The four new cheetah boys are currently waiting for permits to travel and an announcement on a confirmed arrival date will be made in the coming months.

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and Africa’s most endangered big cat. In zoos cheetahs can live from 10 to 12 years. Uniquely adapted for speed, they can reach their top speed of 110 kilometres per hour in just over three seconds.

At this speed, the cheetah’s stride is seven metres long with its impressive body structure – a flexible spine, semi-retractable claws, long legs and powerful tail – enabling it to achieve this staggering pace.

Cheetah were once found throughout Asia and Africa. Today they are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ICUN) Red List, with fewer than 7100 adult and adolescent cheetahs in the wild. They are a protected species in Namibia and are considered endangered under the United States’ Endangered Species Act.

The reasons for the species’ vulnerability are complex but include conflict with humans when cheetah stray from protected reserves onto private land, habitat loss, loss of prey, and poaching and wildlife trafficking.

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