Management of Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus at Saint Louis Zoological Park

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Abstract

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.

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