The endangered cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the world’s fastest land mammal! It can reach speeds up to 64 miles per hour when chasing down prey and can only be found only in Africa. Like human fingerprints, every cheetahs' tail has a unique spot pattern. Their tails also help cheetahs to balance when climbing trees, and function as propellers when they are sprinting.
The greatest threats affecting cheetahs are human-related and include habitat loss due to encroachment, increased agriculture, and ranching and hunting. When prey are scarce, cheetahs may feed on impala, springbok, gazelles, and game birds. Therefore, ranchers often view them as threats to their livelihood, and hunt them to protect their stock.
The AZA Felid Taxon Advisory Group and Cheetah Species Survival Plan® Program manage over 250 cheetahs in 54 AZA-accredited zoos. This ex situ cheetah population benefits from assisted reproduction techniques, and are one of the first species to be successfully artificially inseminated (AI), with over ten litters of cubs born so far!
The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund, and one of its sub-funds, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, has provided over $90,000 in support of cheetah conservation projects including:
||Adult cheetahs are between 3 and 4 feet long with 30-inch long tails. They weigh between 75 and 145 pounds.
||Cheetahs have wiry bodies, small heads and golden or yellowish coats
with many small black spots. Their tails
are long with a few black bands, and sometimes a white tip. Black stripes, or
tear lines, run from their eyes down to the corners of their mouths.
||Cheetahs live in small, isolated populations in sub-Saharan Africa.
||Cheetahs prefer to eat hoofed mammals such as gazelles and young
wildebeest, but they will eat smaller game such as hares, warthogs, and birds.
||Cheetahs can breed at any
time of year, but tend to copulate in the dry season and bear cubs at the onset
of the wet season.