New Cheetahs arriving at Halls Gap Zoo

Everyone in the area will have heard about the legend of the Grampians Panther and now the truth is finally out.

Halls Gap Zoo will welcome the arrival of two Cheetah brothers today.

Halls Gap Zoo will welcome the arrival of two Cheetah brothers today.

Cat sightings in the Grampians will become more common now, once two Cheetah brothers arrive at the Halls Gap Zoo later today.

Zoo owner Greg Culell said the pending arrival of the Cheetah brothers today continued a significant program of introducing new species to the Halls Gap Zoo.

"Our strategic plans include the acquisition of a new iconic zoo animal species every 18 months or so, which we started with the Giraffe, next the Cheetah followed by Rhinoceros," Mr Culell said.

"This will keep us fresh and drive visitation, generating income to support our Australian endangered species breeding programs, which was the reason that Yvonne and myself decided to purchase the business seven years ago.

"We identified Cheetah as the next iconic species that we should add to our collection, not only for the appeal to our many visitors, but more importantly, we would be supporting a worldwide endangered species breeding program with this species."

Halls Gap Zoo entered into an agreement with Zoos South Australia (Adelaide and Monarto Zoos) in May last year, where the Halls Gap Zoo would provide $10,000 for them to import two male Cheetahs from Europe for breeding purposes.

Their previous breeding male had died last year from age related disease and his brother died just last month. Cheetahs generally live for only 10-12 years of age and it is usually renal failure that causes their demise as it was in both these cases.

There were no genetically suitable males available in Australasia for them to use to mate to their females and the international species coordinator recommended the brothers from Denmark as the best available males of the correct age for breeding.

Mr Culell said Halls Gap Zoo's role in the Cheetah breeding program would be to hold animals until they are required for breeding in a breeding institution.

"In Australasia, these are Monarto Zoo, Dubbo Zoo and Orana Zoo in New Zealand, although the animals we hold could end up anywhere worldwide," Mr Culell said.

"This scenario is a typical example of how species breeding programs work in the zoo system with all zoos typically breeding around 20% of the species they display and the other 80% are held as non breeding or single sex groups with all breeding and transfer recommendations being made by the species coordinator yearly as per individual zoo requirements and/or release needs.

"Once we have acquired these Cheetahs, the Australasian species coordinator would make sure that we always had Cheetah on display even if the animals we held were required for breeding elsewhere."

Mr Culell said he, Yvonne and all the staff were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the two Cheetah males later today, following which they will focus their attention on the pending arrival of Rhinoceros.

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