Canberrans stuck for Christmas gifts now have the perfect solution, with the opportunity to make friends one-on-one with three cheetah cubs at the National Zoo and Aquarium from this Saturday.
Zambi, Asani and Viking arrived from South Africa during Canberra's lockdown and now after a month of quarantine and training, they are ready to meet the locals through the zoo's "Meet a Cheetah" program.
Cheetah keeper Leah Carnegie has been working with the male siblings to get them ready for the program to help raise awareness.
"These guys are ambassadors for the cheetah species, meaning we bring people in to educate and raise awareness for them and also raise funds for the cheetahs out in the wild." Ms Carnegie said.
"There is only about 6500 left out in the wild, which is the largest in terms of their population decreasing out in Africa, which not many people know.
"They are the lowest hierarchy big cat, living in the same area as lions and leopards who all eat the same thing, so they're all in competition."
The program not only gives members of the public the chance to get up close and personal with big cats, but is also a long term opportunity for the zoo.
"Having them come here so young means we can get to work with them for most of their life which is an amazing opportunity the keepers are very grateful for, it's not an opportunity many people get." Ms Carnegie said.
"A cheetah out in the wild is likely to only live about seven years while here at the zoo their life span pretty much doubles to 12 to 14 years because we look after them so well."
"We're also involved in a regional breeding program at the zoo, for these three they're currently ambassadors for as long as they want to, everything is on their terms. However potentially in the future we can definitely look at breeding programs for these three."
A maximum of two people aged 15 or over can spend 10 minutes with the three cheetahs for $150 per person on weekdays or $175 on weekends and public holidays which includes free zoo entry.
To book an encounter, see the link here.
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