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Whipsnade Zoo

Cheetah Rock

Malcolm Whitehead, Head of Discovery and Learning, Zoological Society of London (author)
Florian Krepcik, Monika Fiby (editors for ZooLex)
Published 2011-6-4

 

UP LOCATION:

c/o ZSL, Whipsnade Zoo, Whipsnade, Beds LU6 2LF, Great Britain
Phone: +44--(0)1582872171
URL: http://www.zsl.org/zsl-whipsnade-zoo


UP KEY WORDS:

carnivore


UP ANIMALS:

Family:Species:Common Name:Capacity:
FelidaeAcinonyx jubatus (n.b. N. African ssp. Soemeringii is kept but enclosure suitable for all Cheetah)Cheetah2,4


UP DESCRIPTION:

‘Cheetah Rock’ aims to provide holding facilities for the conservation breeding of North African cheetahs and to bring people ‘up close and personal’ to these cats. Further, it seeks to interpret the natural history of cheetahs, together with the role of ZSL in cheetah conservation. This includes both zoo and Tanzanian field components and highlights the work of ZSL’s expert cheetah field researcher, Dr Sarah Durant.

The two outdoor exhibits feature climbing logs and water holes. They may be opened up to form one continuous run. The enclosures are bounded by chain link and hot wire fencing. On the public side, the barrier consists of water moats and a thatched ‘African’ hut. The hut has floor to roof glass viewing panels where the public can enjoy uninterrupted views of the animals in their paddock. The cheetahs are often found surveying their surroundings or resting aloft the vantage point of a rocky outcrop (with a cave-like shelter incorporating heat pads) directly in front of the viewing window. The ‘hut’ is an interpretative area as well as a viewing one.
 

UP SIZE:

Two grassland exhibits may be opened up to form one continuous run of 1350 m². An additional animal area of 512 m² is off-show. Public viewing areas and pathways total 275 m².

Space allocation in square meters:

useindoorsoutdoors     total exhibit    
accessible     total     accessible     total    
animals1,8601,860
visitors275275
others
total2,135

 

UP COSTS:

GBP 748,450


 

UP OPENING DATE:

April 2008
 

UP DESIGN:

Beginning: February 2007

  • Architecture: Nichols Webber Brown

UP CONSTRUCTION:

Beginning: Septemer 2007


UP LOCAL CONDITIONS:

walter.gif This is a climatic diagram for the closest weather station.

 

UP PLANTS:


UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO ANIMALS:

The rocky outcrop serves as a ‘vantage point’ and the cave as a shelter for the animals. Drinking water is available in the moats. Large grassy areas and the adjacent ungulate paddock provide enrichment.
 

UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO KEEPERS:

Separate enclosures are available for isolating animals.
 

UP FEATURES DEDICATED TO VISITORS:

Staff-lead sand sculpture workshops have been incredibly popular. It is a useful means to get educational messages across.
 

UP INTERPRETATION:

The interpretive program in the 'African' hut includes interactive ‘pull-out graphics’ about cheetah adaptations, graphics inviting tourists on holiday in Tanzania to send their cheetah photos to a ZSL database,and a Zoetrope which is a cylindrical drum with slits. When visitors rotate the drum and look through the slits, cheetah pictures appear to show one cheetah running. A touch screen invites visitors to identify individual cheetahs from unique spot patterns.

Outside, in an area bounded by fence sticks and resembling an East African village compound, is a Land Rover that visitors can explore. The vehicle is packed with field equipment. Further graphics detail ZSL cheetah conservation work in Tanzania. A digital display challenges visitors to judge the distance between the Land Rover and three oil drums, sited at increasing distances from the vehicle. This replicates the methods used by field researchers when surveying cheetahs from a line transect.

Opposite the Land Rover is a running track where visitors can compare their running speed with the cats. A digital screen presents the results.

Explainers invite children to beat drums to the tempo of cheetah heartbeats at rest and when hunting.
 

UP MANAGEMENT:

In order to give the cheetahs the highest standards of welfare, there are four off-view holding enclosures with seven heated kennels behind the public viewing area. The pens may be joined up in any number of combinations, or kept separate. They are used to introduce the genders to each other when receptive to mating, for rabies quarantine, or for any other times when animals are mixed or isolated.
 

UP RESEARCH:

ZSL has coordinated the world’s longest in-depth cheetah study, monitoring individuals in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park since 1974. It can predict future cheetah numbers based on reproductive rate and cub mortality.
 

UP CONSERVATION:

The ZSL has carried out the longest ever in-depth study of a wild cheetah population in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Since 1974, the Serengeti’s 70 or so adult cheetahs and their cubs have been monitored using their individuals’ unique spot patterns for identification. A mass of data has been generated about ranging patterns, ecology, reproduction, life histories and hunting strategies. From this, predictions can be made about future cheetah numbers based on changes in birth and survival rates over three decades. This Serengeti Cheetah Project is run in partnership with the Tanzanian authorities and New York’s Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Although the interpretative emphasis is on east African cheetah work, the cheetahs themselves (2.4) are of the highly endangered North African subspecies, A.j. soemmeringii. ZSL is working in Algeria as part of a desert wildlife conservation programme. In 2006, evidence was found of cheetahs in southern Algeria. Along with WCS, ZSL is also involved in an Iranian Cheetah Project.

The zoo cheetahs come from a successful captive breeding programme based in the United Arab Emirates. Some of these cats originate from customs-seized animals that were destined for the pet trade. The whole operation is part of the Northern Cheetah European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP).

For a long time, cheetahs were regarded as ‘difficult’ in terms of captive breeding. The trick appears to be separating genders and allowing females to choose mates at the right time. Whipsnade was one of the first zoos in the world and the first in the U.K. to breed and successfully rear cheetahs in 1967. Since then until 1992, more than 130 have been born at the Zoo. This represents about 20% of the world’s captive cheetah births during the period.
 

UP LOCAL RESOURCES:


over_t.jpg
68K + description74K
Overview
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2009

 
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Site Plan
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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Cheetah (1)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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Cheetah Rock (2)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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55K91K
Path into Cheetah Rock (3)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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38K44K
View from shelter (4)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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51K85K
View from shelter (4)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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69K118K
Inside of hut with interpretation (5)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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50K55K
Interactive information board (6)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
6_t.jpg
54K59K
Interactive information board (7)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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33K + description33K
Cheetah identification game (8)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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Interactive display (9)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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65K72K
Race the cheetah (10)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
10_t.jpg
58K94K
Race the cheetah (11)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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68K + description113K
Landrover Serengeti Cheetah Project (12)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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52K56K
Interaction at the Landrover (13)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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73K119K
Interaction at the Landrover (13)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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99K + description905K
Interactive demonstration (14)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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Educational Signage (15)
©Whipsnade Zoo, 2008

 
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95K201K
Wire fence with overhang (16)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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Keeper access (17)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 
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Water moat (18)
©Monika Fiby, 2010

 

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