These sleek and elegant animals are favourites with visitors to the Zoo, who are awed to meet Earth’s fastest land mammal face-to-face.
Cheetah are classed as vulnerable, with numbers in the wild decreasing. There may be fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild, mainly in Africa. They are classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (on the IUCN ‘red list’). They are suffering from habitat loss due to farming. While the days of hunting Cheetah for sport are gone, sadly they are still hunted for their fur and killed by farmers who perceive them to be a threat to livestock.
There has been some success in breeding Cheetah in zoos, and Werribee is hopeful that the Cheetah at the Zoo will in the future be part of a program that succeeds in increasing global numbers of this vulnerable species.
The Cheetah is the fastest land mammal on Earth, reaching speeds up to 112km/hour, although the average speed of a chase is around 64km/hour.
Cheetah formerly ranged in Asia, Western Iran and throughout Africa except for the true desert areas. The Cheetah can now be found in the eastern and southern regions of Africa. Their main habitats are open country, from semi-desert to dry savannah, including light woodland.
Cheetah range between 70 and 90cm in height and weigh between 35 and 65kg. The males are approximately 10kg heavier than the females. The body of the Cheetah is designed for speed and agility.
- It’s rare for Cheetahs to climb trees. They can jump onto low hanging branches and fallen trees, but adult Cheetahs are not good climbers
- The claws are not retractable, like a dog, and are used as spikes in aid of sprinting
- The Cheetah does not roar like a lion or tiger. Its range of vocal noises include chirping and churring, growling and purring
- The name Cheetah means ‘spotted one’