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Celebrate International Cheetah Day

December 4 is International Cheetah Day! Cheetah populations are decreasing in the wild, but you can help!


Fast and Furry!

Instantly recognizable on the African grasslands, cheetahs stand out with black spotted, tawny colored fur. Dark tear lines stretch from the corner of their eyes down to their muzzles.

Known for their tremendous speed when hunting prey, cheetahs are built for acceleration. Their well-muscled frame, long legs, flexible backbone, and semi non-retractable claw allows them to reach up to speeds of 60 miles per hour. They can accelerate faster than an average sports car and use their tail like a rudder, helping them turn and balance.


Cheetahs are carnivores and hunt during the early morning to late afternoon, which differs from most other large cat species. They often hunt for gazelles, impala, wildebeest calves, and hares, and will only eat prey they have killed themselves. They have exceptional eyesight, using it to stalk their prey in the tall, grassy plains.

Mostly solitary, females will pair up with a male for mating and then give birth to anywhere between two to eight cubs. Mom and cubs will stay together for up to two years. Each cub is born with a mantle of fur, which runs down the back. This makes the cub resemble a honey badger (a fearsome foe most predators stay away from) and helps them camouflage into the surrounding grass.


Cheetah populations are decreasing in the wild; it is estimated that there are roughly 6,500 individuals left. This 40% decrease in population in the last 20 years is due to human-wildlife conflict, habitat loss, and loss of prey, leading to their classification as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Without immediate help, the overall cheetah population is estimated to decrease again by half in the next few years.

You can help!

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is celebrating cheetahs on December 8 with cheetah-themed activities at the Zoo. Check out the following events and ways to get involved!

Photos with Santa: On December 8, Santa will be in the Zoo Auditorium! $2 from every photo purchase will be donated to the Future for Wildlife cheetah fund, which support Zoo conservation partners Ruaha Carnivore Project and Action for Cheetahs in Kenya.

Conservation Tree: Ornaments made from Kichaka Pao Community Group in Kenya will be available for purchase on December 8. Proceeds of the sales will go to a long-term project dedicated to cheetah conservation.

Lights for Lions: Looking to get rid of those broken holiday lights? The Zoo will have bins just inside the Zoo gate to collect your broken or unwanted holiday lights and extension cords. All proceeds from the cords collection will benefit the Ruaha Carnivore Project, which aids with lion and cheetah conservation. Collections will take place November 16th through February 15th.

Donate: Join the efforts of the Cleveland Zoological Society and Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in securing a future for lions and cheetahs with our conservation partners: The Ruaha Carnivore Project and Action for Cheetahs in Kenya. Your donation makes a difference.

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