Basic facts about cheetahs

  • Cheetah is a member of the Felidae family that is recognized as the fastest land animal as it can reach 45 mph within 2.5 seconds (Wilson et al., 2013).

  • Distinctive characteristics of cheetah include a slender body, deep chest, spotted pelage, a small rounded head, black tear-like streaks on the face, long thin legs and a long spotted tail (Estes, 2004).
  • Cheetah is a diurnal species that is active mainly during the day and spend majority of their time hunting. Hunting activity peaks during dawn and dusk indicating crepuscular tendencies (Hunter, 2015)
  • Cheetahs in the wild may be solitary or live with their offspring in home ranges. According to Caro (1994), pregnant and nursing females, a few adolescents, and males who have not joined any groups are typically solitary. Non-lactating females, their cubs, adolescent siblings, and several males will form their own groups.
  • Cheetahs inhabit a variety of habitats which include dry forests, scrub forests and Savannah.
  • Cheetahs have been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as they has suffered a substantial decline in its historic range due to rampant hunting in the 20th century.
  • Back in 2011, captive population was around 1614, which makes up about 13% of the total population in the world (Marker, 2011).
  • Petri (2016) reported that there are only 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild in 2016.

Given that captivity may likely be their only safeguard from extinction in the near future, it is important to find out what is the best practices for enriching cheetahs in zoos and wildlife parks in order to obtain a greater understanding of how to improve their lives in captivity.

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