Management of Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus at Saint Louis Zoological Park



In 1974 the Cheetah Survival Center at Saint Louis Zoological Park was developed to exhibit and breed Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus in a naturalistic environment. Between 1978 and 1992 32 Cheetahs were born to ten litters. The exhibit design, husbandry, diet and reproductive-management programme are described. To determine oestrus in 92 more accurately a number of research programmes have been undertaken at the Zoo, including vaginal cytology, hormone analysis and a biotelemetry project to investigate the relationship between oestrus and increases in body temperature and activity levels. Behavioural observations of oestrous 9? and changes in behaviour of ♂♂ around them are also described. Weekly hormone data reveal a correlation between serum oestradiol and the percentage of anuclear cells which may indicate oestrus. Details of the hand-rearing protocol developed to counteract feline rhinolracheitis in cubs, including formula, weaning technique and medical treatment, are also given.