By Craig T. Kojima |
October 31, 2019
| Updated on October 31, 2019 at 8:08 pm
Video by CKojima@staradvertiser.com, Editing by DLee@staradvertiser.com
Three new South African cheetahs from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute recently joined the Honolulu Zoo.
The Honolulu Zoo on Thursday 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.
“We’re excited to have a cheetah population again,” said zoo director Linda Santos, adding that the staff offered the sisters small pumpkins this morning. “As you can see they’re very acclimated and very inquisitive.”
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell talked with reporters at the Honolulu Zoo on Thursday.
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 zoo director Linda Santos, until they are ready to be bred with a genetically viable match.
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.
Cheetahs 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.
Scarlett Shakles, Director of Education at the Honolulu Zoo Society, holds bags of Cheetos to celebrate the arrival of the three new South African cheetahs.