Tanganyika has long been incredibly successful at breeding big cats, but this litter of cheetahs represents a first for the Park. “This is our first litter of cheetah cubs,” says Matt Fouts, Tanganyika’s Assistant Director. “And, to our knowledge, the first cheetah cubs born in the state of Kansas. It’s an incredibly exciting time for us.”
The cubs were born December 4th which is International Cheetah Day, to parents Amira and Enzi. Both parents came to Tanganyika with two other cheetahs from a facility in Africa in 2010, around the same time that the Park rescued several animals from flooding in Minot, North Dakota. “We have had so much success breeding other endangered cats like clouded leopards and Amur leopards (the rarest big cat in the world) and we knew we could help preserve cheetahs too,” said Jim Fouts, Tanganyika’s director
Tanganyika Wildlife Park is well-known as one of the most successful and prolific breeding facilities for big cats in the world. Prior to the new liter of cheetahs, 8 different cat species had been bred at the Park – clouded leopards, lynx, snow leopards, caracals, Bengal tigers, jaguars, Amur leopards, and servals. However, successful breeding of the cheetahs had been elusive. How and when they are paired up was a much more intricate process. In addition, they only have several years of fertility during their lifetime and the clock was ticking for Amira.
“Our initial setup was not ideal, so we committed to building an entirely new cheetah breeding facility and imported four more cheetahs from Africa,” stated Jim Fouts, “It was a huge financial decision for our family-owned facility, especially with no guarantee the cheetahs would breed and have an impact on the preservation of their species.” Our perseverance paid off and 2016 ended up being a banner year for breeding success with 8 species of cats born, including the new cheetahs.
Once widespread across most of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the cheetah now occupies less than 25% of their historic range. Fewer than 10,000 wild cheetahs remain today, a 90% drop from their wild population in 1900. Habitat loss, conflicts with humans, and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade all represent significant threats to the world’s fastest land animal. Successful breeding programs at Tanganyika and other facilities are an important step in captive conservation efforts for this incredible species.
Tanganyika is a private, family-owned facility. We do not receive any government subsidies like most zoos. If you would like to help Tanganyika with the new baby cheetahs, please consider “adopting” one for the holiday season by going to gifts.twpark.com.