Dubbo Zoo and The Three Baby Cheetahs

Anyone who knows us understands we have a thing for big cats. We spent four weeks in the Indian Himalaya chasing the elusive snow leopard.  We endured days of camping, cold arid conditions and rugged climbs to snatch a glimpse of this enigmatic creature. And it was worth every sacrifice. A little closer to home we ventured south to Mogo Zoo for a closer encounter with their snow leopards. So when I heard that the Dubbo Zoo in the NSW Central West had three new additions to their cheetah family we got busy planning another road trip.

Officially known as the Taronga Western Plains Zoo – but more colloquially as Dubbo Zoo – this open plains zoo is the closest one may get to seeing wild animals in their natural habitat bar a safari trip across the  African savannah. But the main attraction on our visit in April was of course the three cheetah cubs. Born in October last year to a King Cheetah named Kyan, keepers have named them ‘Obi’ meaning heart in Nigerian chosen for the male, and ‘Nyasa’ meaning water in Malawi and ‘Zahara’ meaning flower in Swahili chosen for the females.

Armed with a little knowledge of big cat behaviour we got to the zoo at opening time and headed straight to the cheetah enclosure. Cats are often more active early in the morning and late in the afternoon and sure enough when we arrived at the enclosure we were well rewarded. The three cubs were out in the enclosure with their mother and we spent a good hour watching them chase each other through the grass, play fighting and testing their boundaries all the while under the watchful eye if their vigilant mother.

ALL PHOTOS BY AND COPYRIGHT TO CHRISTIAN WILSON

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

Two of the cubs have been identified as the rare King Cheetah, which has an unusual colour variation. King Cheetahs are produced when both parents hold the recessive gene, which is why their occurrence is so rare. King Cheetahs differ from other Cheetahs only in their coat pattern. King Cheetah coats have darker spots which form a stripe-like pattern (like on the mother pictured here), compared to the lighter more defined spots of a Cheetah. It is estimated that only 60 King Cheetahs remain in the world. Pic by Christian Wilson

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

But the Cheetahs Aren’t the Only Stars at Dubbo Zoo

Dubbo Zoo is also home to a playful and bumbling baby elephant. This gorgeous boy is the  first Asian Elephant calf born at the Dubbo Zoo. He was born at 3:50pm on Wednesday 2nd November to experienced mother Thong Dee and has  been officially named ‘Sabai’ meaning peaceful, happiness, relaxed or comfortable in Thai.

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

Other Exhibits at Dubbo Zoo

While the baby animals are certainly a star attraction don’t neglect the other exhibits. The 6km track that meanders its way through the zoo will take you past hippos, giraffes, zebras, meerkats, lions, tigers, rhinos.  There are hundreds of animals on display.

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

dubbo zoo

Pic by Christian Wilson

All these photos were taken by Christian Wilson with his trusty zoom lens (and so are copyright to him and him only – please don’t steal them). See more of Christian’s work on RedBubble.  Along with photography he also has penchant for climbing stuff. Check out his blog: Elevated Thinking

Taronga Western Plains Zoo – Information

For further information visit their Website: http://taronga.org.au/taronga-western-plains-zoo

Opening Hours

9.00am – 4.00pm Everyday
The entry fee includes two consecutive days’ admission, to give you ample time to explore all the Zoo has to offer.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day.

Tickets: Save time and money and pre-purchase your tickets on-line with upto 20% discount on gate ticket prices and valid for six months from date of purchase.

I use to hate zoos with their cages and locks and keys but now I see the benefit zoos have for the conservation of endangered species and understand we need to support the work they do. How lucky we are to still be able to see these magnificent creatures. But even with the work these conversation zoos are doing one-day these animals may be gone forever and that is not a world I want to imagine.

From Taronga’s Website:
Taronga’s Mantra – For the Wild

For the wild
For its future
And it’s one you may not have contemplated before
One where the world’s wild animals don’t simply
Slip off the face of the earth, never to be seen again…

They make a comeback.
See, we believe that humans and animals can live together on this planet. That we can share it.
That they can survive, and even thrive in the wild.
But until that day comes we will be right there working towards it.

As a home
A school
A sanctuary
A nursery
A dating service
The first line of defence
And the last resort.
We are defenders, champions and ambassadors of the wild
And we’re on a mission that is of such critical importance it can’t be allowed to fail.

Put simply: We can’t let it.

Taronga. For the wild.

About Julie Small

A NOMAD and a nester - hope you enjoy my stories and photos.

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