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Werribee Zoo celebrates International Cheetah Day
Werribee Open Range Zoo’s six-year-old female cheetah, Kulinda, is the furry, spotted face of a very special cause today.
International Cheetah Day raises awareness about one of the world’s fastest animals – a species whose numbers have dropped dramatically over the past 100 years.
According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the number of cheetahs in the wild has fallen from around 100,000 to 8,000 during that time.
The most endangered of the African cats, cheetahs face a range of threats to their survival including loss of habitat, poaching, and illegal pet trade.
Cheetah protection groups estimate that 300 cheetahs are smuggled out of Somalia each year to be sold as exotic pets.
As their natural habitat continues to shrink, cheetahs are also becoming more dependent on hunting livestock, placing them in direct conflict with local farmers.
Werribee Open Range Zoo Keeper Suzanne Szabo has seen Kulinda play a vital role in educating visitors about the difficulties wild cheetahs face.
“It’s great that people can come and see her and have that connection because many people don’t realise they are under threat,” Ms Szabo said. “We see this beautiful animal and then have the sad realisation that there aren’t many left in the wild.”
Ms Szabo said she has learnt a great deal from working with Kulinda over the years.
“They’re a very in-the-moment animal. Working with them calms you down and encourages you to be patient.”
As a typical mature female cheetah, Kulinda enjoys a quiet and solitary life.You can find her every day of the year at Werribee Open Range Zoo.