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Cute Cheetah Cubs at Orana

Orana Wildlife Park MEDIA RELEASE – For Immediate Release

Cute Cheetah Cubs at Orana
“Boo” and “Lion” two affectionately nick-named male cheetah cubs will make their first, albeit brief, public appearance tomorrow morning when they receive their six-week inoculation. The cubs will be on public display for the Christmas Holidays and staff are planning an encounter where visitors will be able to interact with them.

Head Keeper, Rob Clifford, says: “We are delighted with the progress of the cubs and the fact that more cheetah have been produced at Orana. Cheetah are a flagship conservation species for the Park. Only a small number of zoos worldwide have experienced repeated breeding success with the species. To date, eighteen cats have been raised to adulthood at Orana which is a significant achievement as cheetah are a notoriously difficult species to breed in captivity.

The cubs were born to a young female, Mazza, and were part of a litter of four. Mazza was doing a great job mothering the cubs but by day 10 the animals were not progressing. Following an intensive 12 hour monitoring session by remote cameras, the cubs’ vigour noticeably dropped and the decision was made, in consultation with our vet, to pull them for hand-rearing. Sadly when we entered the birthing box one cub had recently died. The remaining three were taken to be hand-reared. At that point, the two boys appeared in reasonable health but the female was in a critical state and following emergency care at Rangiora Vet Clinic she sadly died that night. The boys then started to deteriorate but after a 24 hour period of intensive treatment at Rangiora Vet Clinic, they returned to the Park and have since thrived.”

Animal Keeper, Sam Jeune, is one of three keepers who has worked tirelessly tending to the needs of the cubs. “They are just adorable, amazing, creatures and it is the best thing in the world to work with them! It is an absolute delight to see them grow, develop and progress. They have very distinct personalities. “Boo” is quieter and very people orientated whereas “Lion” is bolder and is often the first to explore something new but can then be a sook because he scares easily and runs to “Boo” for support.

Hand-raising the cubs has been extremely hard work for our team and provides daily challenges. Initially since they were so little the cubs required feeding every three hours until they were 20 days old. From that point they progressed to being fed every four hours through the night. They now receive four feeds per day and are being weaned.”

Staff had a multitude of tasks from teaching the cubs how to feed and toilet to regularly charting their weight. It was imperative to monitor their respiration, temperature and hydration. As the cats developed, more stimulation was provided and staff needed to meet the ever demanding needs of the little cats such as teething requirements.

“Boo” and “Lion” are set for transfer to Wellington Zoo next year to join the Cheetah Ambassador Programme. In the meantime, local people have the opportunity to meet these curious cubs over summer.
- ENDS -

About cheetah
• Cheetah are classified as vulnerable by the World Conservation Union as a result of habitat loss, hunting by humans for their pelt and persecution by farmers due to stock losses.
• Unlike other cats, cheetah’s claws are non–retractable and act like spikes on running shoes to give them traction in the chase.
• Cheetah make a range of sounds – they meow, hiss, purr and chirp but cannot roar.
• Although a female may give birth to two to five cubs, the mortality rate is extremely high in the wild as other animals, especially Lions and Hyenas, hunt down the cubs and kill them to reduce competition for prey.
• People can become involved in cheetah conservation by supporting wildlife organisations like Orana Wildlife Park. Alternatively, people can ‘think globally and act locally’ to get involved in conservation by looking after the environment.

About Orana Wildlife Park
Orana Wildlife Park is NZ’s only open range zoo and is home to over 400 animals from more than 70 different species. The Park is owned and operated by Orana Wildlife Trust, a registered charitable trust, which also runs Natureland Zoo in Nelson. The Trust also owned Southern Encounter Aquarium & Kiwi House (Cathedral Square) until February 2011 when it was closed indefinitely after a devastating 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck Christchurch. The Trust is committed to the conservation of wildlife diversity on this planet. Our aims, along with being dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and the welfare of our animals, are to provide education, recreation and enjoyment to the public and to support research relating to endangered animals. The Trust is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia (ZAA) and ZAA NZ.

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