The Zoo welcomes new cheetahs!

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens recently added two new male cheetahs to its animal collection. These cheetahs are replacing the three female cheetahs that were sent to the San Diego Zoo to participate in the cheetah Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program breeding initiative. The cheetahs are siblings and were born on October 27, 2009, at White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida. Their names are Iraja and Jagati.

The cheetah is found in sub-Saharan Africa. Their habitat is primarily savannah grasslands and other drier open area with intermittent trees and bushes for cover. The cheetah is endangered. Today, only 12,000 to 15,000 cheetahs remain in Africa, and a few may survive in Iran. The country with the largest population is Namibia, home to about 3,000 cheetahs. Population estimates are very difficult due to the nomadic lifestyle of the cheetah and very large home ranges. Because they require such vast amounts of space, habitat loss is a very serious threat to cheetah survival. Cheetahs also suffer from low genetic variability and problems associated with inbreeding. The fur trade has also impacted the cheetah along with indiscriminate hunting.

“The Zoo is involved in several SSPs and we are committed to continue our involvement with the conservation of cheetahs,” said Joe Montisano, CEO. “The role of zoos has changed through the years to focus on education and conservation and the Central Florida Zoo is fully engaged in this mission.”

The mission of an Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program, is to cooperatively manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, certified related facilities, and approved non-member participants.

About the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens - The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is a 116-acre private, nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and to engaging and educating our guests by sharing knowledge and celebrating our natural world. For more information regarding the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens visit or call 407.323.4450. The Zoo is located at I-4 Exit 104 in Sanford and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information on the Central Florida Zoo contact:
Brenda New, Business Communications Manager
407.323.4450 ext. 117 or