Cheetah Outreach volunteer handler Mike Calvin (left) with PAAZAB's Liesl Smith (centre) and the NZG's Tracy Rehse (right). Star of the show - Hemmingway.
Sedated cheetah during its physical examination.
Blood samples taken for DNA profiling and for biobanking.
Over the past couple of months the National Zoo's Animal Collections and Conservation Department have been engaged in a number of activities surrounding that magnificent big spotted cat — the cheetah.
Assistant Manager Tracy Rehse travelled down to Cheetah Outreach near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, to conduct database training for the African Zoo and Aquarium Association's (PAAZAB) new regional Cheetah studbook keeper, Liesl Smith.
Two days were spent introducing Liesl to the intricacies of managing studbooks, and to the studbook database SPARKS (Single Population Animal Record Keeping System). The aim of the studbook is to monitor breeding within the intensively managed population, keeping track of parentage and making recommendations to ensure that closely related animals do not breed.
The studbook also monitors all happenings in the captive cheetah population, including movements between institutions, births and deaths. Ensuring that all captive animals are registered with the studbook will minimise the risk that unscrupulous operators will be able to take cheetah caught out of the wild and pass them off for sale as being captive born.
Two new young males strut their stuff at the NZG
Regular visitors to the National Zoo will notice two new additions to the collection in the form of two young male cheetah that are on loan to us from the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre at de Wildt just north of Pretoria. As the NZG itself has no intention of breeding cheetah on the property, a loan of two young males makes perfect sense so that our visitors still get to enjoy the thrill of seeing and interacting with live cheetah. The male that we did have went back to the centre as he is now old enough to breed.
Lastly, two female cheetah from the NZG's Mokopane Biodiversity Conservation Centre in Limpopo made the long journey down to the Cape (with some human assistance). These two females have gone to the Cango Wildlife Ranch in the Western Cape on a breeding loan.
The cheetah were given full physicals by the vets prior to them being moved. The extremely encouraging news is that one of the females has been mated although it is not yet certain if she is pregnant. The cubs should be born in March if all goes well.
Tracy Rehse - Assistant Manager, Department of Animal Collections and Conservation, NZG
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