Thursday, July 5, 2012

Saving the cheetahs

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 6:33 AM

IN LITTLE ROCK: Cheetah exhibit opens Saturday.
  • IN LITTLE ROCK: Cheetah exhibit opens Saturday.

The Little Rock Zoo this weekend will roll out a new cheetah exhibit. It features mother and daughter cheetahs. They came from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., and the zoo hopes to begin a successful breeding program.

Good timing. The work of that institute is featured in a New York Times article today about the difficulty of breeding endangered species like the cheetah in captivity. The article brings up the debate over breeding programs versus attempts to preserve natural habitats.

Each year the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington spends about $350,000 on breeding cheetahs at its 3,200-acre campus here in Front Royal, which houses 18 other species. That budget supports data collection and the logistics of long-distance matchmaking, among other expenses. Similar cheetah breeding programs exist at four other domestic centers run by zoos.

Yet despite two decades of sustained effort, the captive population of 281 cheetahs in North America gives birth to only 15 cubs, on average, a year, exactly half of what their keepers estimate is necessary to maintain a healthy replacement level.

Cheetahs are much more finicky than, say, their big-cat cousins, lions and tigers, which reproduce with ease. But they are not nearly as difficult to breed as pandas, which have not produced a cub in captivity in the United States since 2010.

Although they are not critically endangered, the world’s population of cheetahs has plummeted. At the turn of the 20th century, roughly 100,000 cheetahs roamed from Africa to the Mediterranean to India, according to the Smithsonian. Today, Panthera and zoo association officials estimate that 7,000 to 10,000 remain in the wild as a result of habitat loss, poaching, and conflicts with farmers and ranchers.

Tags: , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas legislator tied to fatal bus crash in Louisiana

    Republican state Rep. David Wallace of Leachville, a current candidate for state Senate, has been identified as the owner of a company that rounded up a group of workers, apparently undocumented aliens, for flood relief work in Louisiana, including one with a poor driving record who was at the wheel in a fatal bus crash on Interstate 10.
  • The Conway police report on Gilbert Baker's DWI arrest

    Gilbert Baker, the former state senator and state Republican Party chair, was "belligerent and emotional" after Conway police arrested him Friday night for DWI, refusing a breath alcohol test and erratic driving.
  • Campus 'shame' list includes two Arkansas colleges

    Two Arkansas campuses have made an LGBT group's Shame List for seeking a waiver from compliance with the TItle IX civil rights law.
  • Arkansan on Obama's latest commutation list

    President Obama today announced commutations of the sentences of 111 federal prisoners, including one from Arkansas.
  • Governor adds state representative to his staff

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson made official today the long-expected news that he was adding state Rep. Bill Gossage of Ozark to a top staff job. He's also elevated another staffer to a vacant lobbying job.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation