Saturday, 27 June 2009

On the 25th June Dartmoor Zoo received a female southern cheetah, called Sita Johanna. She arrived around lunch time having travelled the short distance from Paington Zoo. She spent the afternoon and that night shut into the house within her enclosure so to let her settle down. We let Sita out on Friday morning under the watchful eyes of all the keepers, and a gathering group of keen public.

Her first steps out into her new enclosure were nervous ones, at first she didn't venture far from her house before returning to it, but with each return to the outside enclosure her confidence grew and she ventured further afield.

The enclosure she occupies is great for cheetah, she is in what used to house the three tigers, Vlad, Blotch and Stripe. This enclosure was actually designed for cheetah when it was built, but until now has never had any in it. With the large hill in the middle of the enclosure and the long grasses it is similar to a lookout point that cheetah would use in the wild. We have added a new platform in the enclosure as well as some bushes and small trees, which when fully established will provide more shaded areas and cover for her.

After only the first 8 hours in the enclosure Sita has already found her favourite spot, she lies at the highest point within the enclosure looking out over the picnic area and into some of the exhibits. Sita is currently occupying the enclosure by herself, but this is not a problem for her as female cheetahs are solitary by nature.

Cheetah are a very important species to keep in zoos as there numbers in the wild are diminishing and are now classed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list. We are very honoured to of received Sita from Paington Zoo as there is usually a five year waiting list to get a stud booked cheetah.

This has ment our red foxes have come out of the large enclosure, but are on a rotor system with the silver foxes taking it in turns to go into the grassy enclosure next to the cheetah. We are currently planning a new enclosure for both the silver and red foxes.


  1. Congratulations on your new Cheetah! And blog! She and the blog look amazing.. Keep up the good work, keepers.

  2. Lovesit!! Have been watching Ben's Zoo on ABC in Australia. What an awesome story behind Dartmoor Zoo.