Cheetahs from South Africa arrive at Mysuru zoo

A male and two female African cheetahs brought under exchange programme and placed in 30-day quarantine; display for public later

August 18, 2020 05:30 pm | Updated 10:55 pm IST - MYSURU

The cheetahs that arrived at the Mysuru zoo from South Africa.

The cheetahs that arrived at the Mysuru zoo from South Africa.

The century-old Mysuru zoo has become the second Indian zoo to house the African cheetah, the fastest land animal, as it managed to get a male and two females from a cheetah conservation centre in South Africa under an animal exchange programme.

The big cats landed at the Bengaluru international airport on Monday and they were safely brought to the zoo here by a team from the zoo the same night. The cheetahs will remain in quarantine for 30 days under close observation.

The zoo claimed it was the country’s first international animal exchange post-COVID-19.

“It’s not easy to get cheetahs but our determined efforts since over a year did not go in vain as the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre, South Africa, agreed for the exchange considering the Mysuru zoo’s standing. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed their arrival to Mysuru since we had got all approvals in December-January. The animals to be given in return for the exchange are being finalised,” said zoo executive director Ajit Kulkarni.

The Mysuru zoo had earlier housed four African cheetahs which had been procured from Germany. After their death, a vacuum was created in the zoo once again for the fastest cat.

Mr. Kulkarni said the three cheetahs, aged between 12 and 16 months, belonged to different parentages. “I was told that the cheetahs brought in 2011 later faced some health issues and therefore we ensured the cats we are getting from South Africa had different pedigree.”

Running track

An expansive enclosure for housing the cheetahs, along with a running track, has been developed at the zoo here in tune with their habitat.

By September-end, the animals are expected to be put on display after they clear the quarantine period and other formalities. “Once the quarantine officer from the Bengaluru airport visits and gives clearance, they shall be displayed. It is indeed a treat to watch these beautiful animals that dominate the African grasslands,” he said.

While thanking Zoo Authority of Karnataka Member Secretary and APCCF B.P. Ravi for his support in getting the animals, Mr. Kulkarni told The Hindu that the Mysuru zoo is the second zoo after Hyderabad zoo to display cheetahs. “We had to pursue the proposals with various agencies in India and South Africa for getting clearances. A lot of paperwork was involved and the Mysuru zoo’s reputation internationally helped in clinching the deal,” he said.

The quarantine enclosure is equipped with CCTVs whose visuals are monitored by a team of zoo vets. “Only select keepers will feed the animals from a distance. Barring them and vets, others don’t have access to the cheetahs,” Mr. Kulkarni said.

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