DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two adorable cheetah cubs are now calling North Texas their new home. The Dallas Zoo has welcomed Winspear and Kamau to their Animal Adventures outreach program, where they will help educate visitors about endangered African animals and the conservation efforts in place to save them from extinction.
The number of cheetahs in the world is estimated to have fallen below 10,000, putting the large cats on the endangered species list.
“Winspear and Kamau will become important animal ambassadors for the Dallas Zoo, building appreciation and awareness about cheetahs to more than 900,000 visitors each year,” said Sean Green, vice president of guest experiences for the Dallas Zoo.
The male cubs were born just eight weeks ago at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia. A team of experts from the zoo spent nearly two weeks with the baby cheetahs before bringing them home to Dallas. Winspear now weighs more than eight pounds, while Kamau is just over six pounds.
The two cubs are now smoke-colored, but will become golden as they grow. As adults, the cheetahs will each be about three feet tall at the shoulder and weigh as much as 140 pounds.
The baby cheetahs will be growing up alongside a special companion. Amani is an 8-week-old black Labrador puppy who will help provide a calming influence for the cubs. In fact, Amani means “peace” in Swahili, the language of eastern Africa where cheetahs exist in the wild. The dog will also provide the cheetahs with another playmate as the mature into adults.
Winspear and Kamau will not live with the Dallas Zoo’s other cheetahs, brother and sister duo Bonde and Kilima. Instead, they will reside in the Wild Encounters area, where zoo officials hope to build a special cheetah run next year. This will allow visitors to see the full-grown cats run at a top speed of about 70 mph.
The cubs will also travel to outreach events outside of the zoo, spreading the word about animal conservation. There are only 15 zoos in the continent that incorporate cheetahs into such outreach programs.
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