Cheetah encounter, Monarto Zoo
The cheetah is one of the most admired animals on display at the Monarto Zoo in South Australia. Currently there are eight cheetahs in the collection at Monarto. Over recent years they have been very successful in their breeding programme. I applaud this , and is one of the reasons I am a life member of this and Adelaide Zoo (membership covers both zoos). For example, Monarto Zoo has been instrumental in the reintroduction of the Przewalski’s Horse to its natural habitat in Mongolia where it was once listed as extinct.
In its natural habitat the cheetah of Africa is highly endangered, though there are still about 7,000 in the wild. Their numbers are declining rapidly due to a combination of hunting, environmental destruction and disease. I hope that it will never get to the point that the only place to see this amazing animal is in places like Monarto Zoo. Successful breeding programmes go a long way ensuring that this will not happen, but if the worst does happen, there is a viable gene pool in zoos around the world.
I have not experienced the thrill of seeing any of the cheetahs at Monarto at full speed, but one of the tour bus guides once informed us that they are very quick, able to catch the cunning local ravens before they could fly away. This was even in their relatively limited quarters. Their largest enclosure is some 200 metres long, and this seems to be enough to stalk and catch the birds. Any rabbits which have foolishly made it into the enclosure never last more than a few seconds either.
On our most recent visit we timed our visit to coincide with the feeding time of one of the cheetahs, as shown in today’s photos. This individual was hand reared and is therefore quite tame. While it was fascinating to get this close to this cheetah, there are almost daily opportunities to actually interact with the cheetah. (Check the web site for details.)
- Monarto Zoo Cheetahs
- Cheetah interactive at Monarto Zoo
- Monarto Zoo – general information about the zoo
- Adelaide Zoo – South Australia’s main zoo site