The century-old Mysuru zoo has become the second Indian zoo to house the famed African cheetahs as the fastest land animals were released for public display on Thursday.
A male and two female cheetahs that were received from a Cheetah conservation centre in South Africa under an animal exchange programme have been displayed in a specially-built enclosure.
Minister in-charge of Mysuru district S.T. Somashekar inaugurated the public display of the cheetahs. Zoo Authority of Karnataka Member Secretary B.P. Ravi, Zoo Executive Director Ajit Kulkarni and others were present.
The three cheetahs, aged between 12 and 16 months, belonged to different parentages. The newly-constructed expansive enclosure for the cheetahs consists of a running track in tune with their habitat.
The zoo visitors, however, have to wait till November 1 to watch the cheetahs as Deputy Commissioner Rohini Sindhuri has ordered the closure of major tourist sites, including the Mysuru zoo, during the Dasara festive season over COVID-19 scare.
The cheetahs had arrived on August 17 and were in quarantine under close observation. The zoo had claimed that it was the country’s first international animal exchange post-COVID-19.
The Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre, South Africa, agreed to give the cheetahs under the exchange considering the Mysuru zoo’s standing. Though the zoo had got all approvals in December-January, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the cheetahs’ arrival.
The Mysuru zoo had earlier housed four African cheetahs which had been procured from Germany. However, they did not survive long.
Mysuru zoo is the second zoo after Hyderabad zoo to display cheetahs. The zoo had to pursue the proposals with various agencies in India and South Africa for getting clearances for the international exchange. A lot of paperwork was involved to realise the exchange and the Mysuru zoo’s reputation internationally helped in clinching the deal, according to the zoo authorities.
The quarantine enclosure was equipped with CCTVs whose visuals were closely monitored by a team of zoo vets. Only select keepers were allowed to feed the animals and no others were permitted to access the cheetahs’ room.