Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Heidi, Cheetah Keeper

In October 2009 Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed four rare Cheetah cubs which are now out on exhibit for visitors to see.  Two of the cubs have been identified as the rare King Cheetah, which is a colour variation of Cheetah. 

King Cheetahs are produced when both parents hold the recessive gene, hence why there occurrence is so rare.  King Cheetah differ from Cheetah only in their coat pattern.  King Cheetah coats have darker spots which form a stripe-like pattern compared to the lighter more defined spots of a Cheetah.  It is estimated that only 60 King Cheetahs are remaining in the world.

The birth of these four cubs is significant for the regional breeding program as neither mother Asali or father Masuka have bred before.  The genetics of these four cubs are extremely important, more so because two of the cubs carry the recessive King Cheetah gene. 

The yet to be named Cheetah cubs are now just over five months old and have undergone all their routine vaccinations and are all doing well on exhibit.  The four cubs are definitely making sure their keepers are on their toes whilst looking after them out on the exhibit.

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