Jet lag hits hunting cheetahs

Tired, they are trying to adapt to their new surroundings in Mysore zoo

long journey: One of the hunting cheetahs which arrived from Johannesburg.  dh photoThe aircraft carrying the cheetahs flew from Johannesburg to Singapore and again from Singapore to Chennai. From Chennai, the animals were brought to Mysore by road — a journey lasting 10-12 hours. The tiring journey has taken a heavy toll on them.

One out of the four cheetahs is yet to take food given by the zoo authorities. “In Johannesburg, they were fed horse meat whose fat content is lower than the meat of chicken and lamb. But here, they are served chicken. Change in food habits may have made them look lazy,” remarked K B Markandaiah, executive director of the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysore.

The spotted cats are housed in four separate enclosures that were renovated recently. A white cloth is placed on the iron railings to prevent people from going near them at least for some days.

Any bird or animal requires a week or 10 days to acclimatise to the new environment. That applies to the hunting cheetahs too.

In Johannesburg, the cheetahs were left in open space, but here, they are ‘temporarily’ housed in a closed enclosure. The authorities are building a state-of-the-art enclosure adjacent to the zebra enclosure at an estimated cost of Rs 50 lakh. The height of the iron mesh will be around 12 feet on all the four sides. There would be compartments in the proposed enclosure with two male cheetahs in the front portion and two in the rear. The purpose of keeping them separately is to avoid them from developing the attitude of siblings. The male cheetah would be allowed inside the enclosure of female cheetah only after the latter shows signs that it is ready for mating, added the executive director.

Naming

The zoo has decided to ask the citizens of Mysore to name the four cheetahs. The four best names would be given to the cheetahs. The winners of the contest would be given mementos at any of the important functions of the zoo. The names of a majority of animals had been suggested by the citizens. This shows their involvement and love for zoo animals, he noted.

Markandaiah pointed out that there will be no problem during summer as the climatic conditions of Mysore and South Africa are almost same. But they may have to provide heating system plus wooden platforms inside the enclosure in winter and rainy season.

All those aspects would be kept in mind at the time of building the new enclosure, he said adding that feeding was very important as cheetahs are susceptible to intestinal problems.

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