Preschool students at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium will celebrate International Cheetah Day with cheetah-themed programming, including visits from zookeepers and an animal ambassador.
Students will learn how cheetahs are unique from other large cats and test their new skills with an “identify a cheetah” exercise. Watson, a Terrier mix and member of the Zoo’s Interactive Animal Programs Department, will stop by to teach students how dogs help wildlife, specifically how Anatolian Shepherds are helping the cheetah population.
The Zoo will continue the celebration on its social media channels with a series of posts, including an 11 a.m. Facebook Live broadcast featuring its family of cheetahs and a keeper takeover series on Instagram.
Recently, Dr. Morris was named program leader of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) Cheetah program. Morris’ level of expertise, 12 years of commitment to the AZA Felid Taxon Advisory Group and the Zoo’s success through the Cheetah Breeding Center led to her appointment to this distinguished leadership role. Currently, the program consists of seven cheetah projects dedicated to the survivability of the species.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium guests can visit six cheetah cubs, two males and four females, with their mother Gracie in the African Grasslands exhibit near the Wildlife Management Headquarters and contribute directly to cheetah conservation the entire month of December by donating at any register on Zoo grounds. Funds will support AZA’s Cheetah SAFE program.
Cheetahs are roaming cats that pose unique conservation challenges because they have larger ranges than other carnivores. As a result, habitat loss has profoundly impacted their populations. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of 55 AZA certified facilities participating in field conservation and research projects for cheetahs. In 2014, the Zoo and Aquarium constructed an off-exhibit breeding center for cheetah that manages between 20 to 30 cheetahs at any given time. This facility helps the AZA Species Survival Plan for cheetah reach its target population in AZA zoos of 350.