Sunday, December 30, 2007

Anatolian/Cheetah Relationships Houston Zoo

"Hollie Colahan, our curator of primates and carnivores, and Kevin Hodge, carnivore supervisor, are prepared to talk about our program but the reporters must understand that it will probably be six months to 12 months before the cheetahs are going to be seen with the dogs and then it will only be for special events. The dogs on the other hand will be seen before the cheetahs…but it will still be a month or two – they need to acclimate to their new home and the keepers. The goal of the program is not only to raise awareness about cheetah conservation but also, with the help of your wonderful dogs, to talk about responsible pet ownership."

The idea is to be able to discuss not only the threats to the cheetah but also what's being done to save them - this is where the Anatolians come in. We will be doing presentations/special events with both the cheetahs and the dogs - this is one reason we are getting two of each. We want all of them to be able to have a break. We are not the first zoo to do this and
we will be following protocols set by other facilities (and have been talking to several other facilities about their programs) - adjusting them as need be for our own situation.

Taji, the female Anatolian, with the cubs

Taji was pictured in the Houston Zoo Wildlife magazine, Winter 2007…
Tusker, the male, is also spending time with them and they are doing great! Everyone here at the zoo loves them and is so surprised at how calm they are and how good they are with the cheetah.
They are very compatible but their personalities are quite different. Tusker is more calm but also stubborn – he’s prone to moping when he doesn’t get his way. He is so patient with the cheetahs though, even when they bite his tail! Taji is more lively and is really into her training. They are learning some basic obedience and walking on the leash so far.

They spend their day going for walks in the zoo, being introduced to the cheetahs, and playing in their yard. They are great with people, including kids, and are spending time out in the zoo now meeting our guests.