New Zealand zoo defends cheetah rentals

Oct 26, 2006

Wellington Zoo officials are dismissing claims their programme allowing cheetahs out to attend public functions is dangerous.

For $2,500 people can have the zoo’s two adult cheetahs, with trainers, at their function for around 40 minutes.

The zoo’s copped criticism from animal rights groups, and now two Dutch zoos have condemned the programme, calling it dangerous and uneducational.

Wellington Zoo’s acting CEO Mauritz Basson says cheetahs are timid animals, posing little threat to humans.

He says several other top zoos around the world allow their cheetahs out, including San Diego, Taronga Zoo in Sydney and Melbourne Zoo.

Basson says getting people involved with the animals first-hand is the best way to teach them about conservation.

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