FAST CAT SPOTTED AT WHIPSNADE!
Monday 26 June 2006
Whipsnade Wild Animal Park is cheering the arrival of the worlds fastest land mammal; an adult male cheetah.
The 10-year-old male - Karsai – has been transported from Fota Wildlife Park in County Cork, Ireland and it is hoped it will form part of a breeding programme when a female cheetah arrives at the park in due course.
Always a favourite at Whipsnade, the cheetahs have been bred at the park for many years and over 160 cubs have been born here.
While cheetahs used to be found throughout most of Africa, they are now endangered in most of their natural range. Cheetahs are often killed because they kill livestock, however they are also endangered because of loss of habitat and poaching.
Zoological Society of London Curator of Mammals, Malcolm Fitzpatrick said:
“It is fantastic to have this charismatic species back at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. Not only are they a great addition to our living collection but they raise awareness of ZSL’s cheetah conservation programme in Tanzania – to help protect this species in the wild.”
Karsai has travelled widely; after being born at Allwetter Zoo in Germany and living in Belfast Zoo for a while, he also visited Dublin Zoo as part of a breeding programme.
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Notes to editors
- Cheetahs can reach speeds of up to 100km per hour (70mph). They can only run at their prey for relatively short distances, so prefer to creep up on their prey and then spring into action.
- Male cheetahs are slightly larger than females and have a slightly bigger head.
- Today cheetahs are extinct in more than 20 countries and between 9,000 to 12,000 animals remain, in small-pocketed populations in 24 - 26 countries in Africa and about 200 in Iran.
- Cheetahs prey on a variety of species from hares to small antelope, and the young of larger antelope.
- Large canivores such as cheetahs are at the top of the food chain and are often the first to suffer when there is pressure on the environment. These top predators need large home ranges and so their conservation requires careful management of whole landscapes ZSL’s Carnivores and People Conservation Programme addresses the problems of living with carnivores through partnerships with Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), governments and local people, sound conservation science, adaptive management and long-term commitments.
- The cheetah’s long association with humans dates back to the Sumerians, about 3,000 BC. In early Lower Egypt, it was known as the MAFDET cat-goddess and was revered as a symbol of royalty.
- Tame cheetahs were kept as close companions to pharaohs, as a symbolic protection to the throne. Many statues and paintings of cheetahs have been found in royal tombs, and it was believed that the cheetah would quickly carry away the pharaoh's spirit to the after life. By the 18th and 19th dynasties, paintings indicated that the cheetah rivaled dogs in popularity as hunting companions.
- Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity: our key role is the conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, carries out scientific research in the Institute of Zoology and is actively involved in worldwide field conservation efforts.
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