LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (June 13, 2012) - Zazi and her daughter Maggie moved into the new Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost Monday night and became the first two cheetahs to reside at the new exhibit.
The exhibit is set for a grand opening on July 7, 2012 at 10:30 a.m.
Maggie and Zazi come to the Little Rock Zoo from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. The institute facilitates and promotes conservation biology programs at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Zazi is 11-years-old, and her daughter, Maggie, is 18-months-old.
The grand opening of the new exhibit on July 7 will include a special address by Anne Schmidt-Kuentzel, Research Geneticist and Assistant Director for Animal Health and Research at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, a worldwide non-profit dedicated to saving the wild cheetah and its habitat. Schmidt-Kuentzel will give a special presentation on her work with CCF later that day.
A special "sneak-peek" of the new exhibit is set for Friday, July 6, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for Zoo members.
The new exhibit is a long, linear exhibit that develops a large portion of the Zoo's new African Savannah area. It features two yards for the cheetahs and two new observatory decks for viewing the cheetahs in their habitat. The African Outpost exhibit was also renovated as part of the new exhibit and features new habitats for the naked mole rats and some African reptiles. This air-conditioned indoor space also features interactive educational displays about the plight of the wild cheetah and the work of CCF to save the cheetah.
Although the exhibit will open with two cheetahs, the exhibit is fit to hold up to five and is designed to allow for breeding. The Zoo is currently working with the Species Survival Plan for the cheetah to develop a breeding program.
The grand opening of the new Laura P. Nichols Cheetah Outpost marks the second major exhibit opening for the Zoo in the past year. The Laura P. Nichols Penguin Pointe exhibit opened in the spring of 2011.
Both the cheetah and penguin exhibits are sponsored by the Laura P. Nichols Foundation in Arkansas who provided funding for both exhibits. The cheetah exhibit is also partially funded through private donations collected through the Arkansas Zoological Foundation and through the 2009 refinancing of park bonds by the City of Little Rock.
(Source: Little Rock Zoo)