Saving the cheetahs | Arkansas Blog

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

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…

  • Sabin's subterfuge in the race for mayor has roots in rigged city government

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that an ethics complaint has been filed saying that the exploratory committee Rep. Warwick Sabin created to prepare for a run for Little Rock mayor was a subterfuge to avoid the city ordinance that doesn't allow campaign fundraising to begin until five months before the November 2018 election.Of course it is.
    • Aug 10, 2017
  • Use of solar on the rise in Arkansas

    With a pivotal ruling expected any day now from the Public Service Commission, Kyle Massey at Arkansas Business reports on the increase in Arkansans adding solar generation units on their homes and business.
    • Apr 13, 2018
  • Antwan Phillips wants to make a difference in reducing Little Rock violence

    KARK/Fox 16's push to do something about Little Rock violence includes a spotlight on people trying to make a difference — in this episode Antwan Phillips, a lawyer at Wright, Lindsey and Jennings.
    • Aug 30, 2017

Slideshows

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2019 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation