03 August 2007
FOR more than 10 years, keepers at two of the region’s most popular animal parks have been trying to encourage their cheetahs to successfully breed.
Now, all the hard work has finally paid off after five cubs were born to proud parents Etna and Cooper at Africa Alive! in Kessingland.
After being kept under wraps for nearly two months, the bundles of fur – three males and two females – have been put on public show and are sure to be one of the big summer attractions.
Gary Batters, senior animal manager at Africa Alive! and its sister park Banham Zoo, said: “We have been working towards this goal for more than 10 years and all the keeping staff are very proud to have been part of making this possible. Cheetahs are probably the only species that we haven’t managed to breed in recent years. It is quite difficult to get a compatible partner.
“Over the years, we’ve been in the situation where we’ve had quite an old male and a young female. The male then dies, but by the time a younger one is brought in, the female is getting to the end of her reproductive life. It’s a tricky business because the female likes to choose between different males.”
To give Etna as much choice as possible, she was temporarily moved from Africa Alive! to Banham Zoo where she successfully mated with Cooper.
The cubs, which have yet to be named, were born on June 7 and kept at the Africa Alive! private breeding centre until they were unveiled to the public this week.
Mr Batters added: “Etna has reared them and she’s going to be a good mum. We are now past the critical period and as the days go by, the cubs are going to become more and more visible, although they can still go into their private area.”
Meanwhile, the Kessingland complex is going Madagascar Crazy this summer with families invited to take up the challenge of helping to create the world’s longest ring tailed lemur tail.
Raising money for the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) Madagascar campaign, people are being asked to explore the sights and sounds of Africa, following the trail to find all of the weird and wonderful animals of Madagascar.
For more information on the campaign visit Africa Alive! or www.eaza.net