comscore Honolulu Zoo welcomes 3 cheetah sisters from Smithsonian | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Honolulu Zoo welcomes 3 cheetah sisters from Smithsonian

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA /CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Zoo Director, Linda Santos, in yellow, looks at cheetah which came to glass.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA /CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Zoo Director, Linda Santos, in yellow, looks at cheetah which came to glass.

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Three new cheetahs at Honolulu Zoo play with a pumpkin on Halloween.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Three new cheetahs at Honolulu Zoo play with a pumpkin on Halloween.

  • HONOLULU ZOO
                                Fawkes, Nagini and Pickett rested in the cheetah exhibit, in this undated photo.

    HONOLULU ZOO

    Fawkes, Nagini and Pickett rested in the cheetah exhibit, in this undated photo.

The Honolulu Zoo Thursday morning celebrated the arrival of three new South African cheetahs from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, where they were born.

The three sister cheetahs — Fawkes, Nagini and Pickett — were born on July 9, 2018, at the Smithsonian, where they received their “Harry Potter” inspired names.

They arrived at the Honolulu Zoo on Sunday.

>> Click here to see photos of the three new South African cheetahs.

“We’re excited to have a cheetah population again,” said zoo director Linda Santos, adding that the staff offered the sisters small pumpkins. “As you can see they’re very acclimated and very inquisitive.”

The three female cheetahs were brought to Honolulu Zoo as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan Program which aims to maintain a genetically diverse and stable population of various animals for the long-term.

Select zoos are chosen as breeding facilities and others as holding facilities.

Honolulu Zoo was chosen as a holding facility for the cheetahs, according to Santos, until they are ready to be bred with a genetically viable match.

“We gladly welcome these cheetahs into the Honolulu Zoo,” said Santos in a news release. “We’re thankful for the continued partnership with the AZA and zoo facilities across the country as we work together in continuing the survival of vulnerable and endangered species, such as the cheetah.”

With their slender, long-legged bodies, cheetahs are built for speed. They can accelerate from 0 to 45 mph in just 2.5 seconds, according to the Smithsonian, and reach top speeds of 60 to 70 miles per hour. They inhabit the African savanna, but are vulnerable to extinction due to loss of habitat.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List has classified the cheetah as “vulnerable” due to its decreasing population.

Oringo was the last cheetah to live at Honolulu Zoo. The 14-year-old, male cheetah was euthanized in March due to health complications related to aging.

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