Halls Gap Zoo welcomes new cheetahs

NEW HOME:  Halls Gap Zoo welcomed 19-month-old cheetah brothers Jana, pictured, and Hizi on Friday.

NEW HOME: Halls Gap Zoo welcomed 19-month-old cheetah brothers Jana, pictured, and Hizi on Friday.

HALLS Gap Zoo welcomed two new cheetahs to the property on Friday.

The brothers, Jana and Hizi, are 19 months old.

Zoo owner Greg Cullel said it was tremendous to have the animals on the property.

“This has been five years in the making,’’ he said.

“Cheetahs have been one of the species we have wanted to get in the zoo.

“It’s an amazing thing and a privilege to be involved with endangered species.”

Mr Cullel said cheetahs were not yet critically endangered but strong captive populations would help the species in the long-term.

“With a lot of these African plains animals, there’s going to be a real crisis,” he said. “We think it is important that there’s a strong genetic pool in captivity.”

He said cheetahs responded well to being reintroduced into the wild.

“If they did become extinct or critically endangered they might need to be re-released at some stage and if we have good strong populations in captivity we can bolster the species,” Mr Cullel said.

The zoo has employed a new head keeper Naline Pirani, who has experience with cheetahs.

She said cheetahs were more social than a lot of other big cats.

“The way I look at it is that they’re pretty much like people, if you treat them with respect you’ll get respect back,” she said. 

Mr Cullel said it was incredibly satisfying to be able to play a part in the survival of a species.

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