Gujarat zoo houses rare African Cheetah

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Junagarh (Gujarat), May 29 (ANI): Sakkarbaug zoo in Gujarat has become the lone address for the rare African cheetahs in India.

The rare cheetahs were brought from Singapore as per a government programme initiated by the Central Zoo Authority of India in order to increase the population of leopards.

Recently released for public view, the cheetahs were talk of the town. Two pairs of cheetahs - two male and two female - were brought to Junagarh in exchange for three Asiatic lions, which were sent to the Singapore zoo by the Gujarat Government last year.

The cheetahs reached the Ahmedabad airport of March 29 and have since been kept in favourable conditions. Now that their quarantine period is over and they are stable they have been deemed fit for public view.

The zoo authorities are now planning to breed the cheetah for which four officials have been sent for training to Singapore and South Africa.

"We are now working for training towards breeding of the cheetahs. We are sending two people to Singapore to learn the upkeep of the animals and two people to South Africa for training in breeding. We will pursue the programme for cheetah conservation. We will make the cheetah conservation programme a long term programme," said Pradeep Khanna, Principal Secretary, Forest Department, Gujarat.

The residents and the tourists have both been thronging the zoo to see the rare animal. Children are especially excited to see the cheetah.

"I am very happy to see the cheetahs. I am also glad that now people from all over India are going to come and visit the zoo," said Prakruti, a visitor.

The zoo was home to the cheetah till 1946 when the last of this kind died.

Like Asiatic lions, the African cheetahs are also on the verge of extinction in Asia, except in Iran.

The Sakkarbaug zoo has over 900 wild animals, including 42 lions and 48 leopards. Thousands of tourists visit the zoo every year.

The zoo was established by the Nawab, erstwhile rulers, of Junagadh. Fond of cheetahs, the Nawab had them in his personal zoo before establishing Sakkarbaug zoo in 1863. By Uday Adhvaryu (ANI)

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