Developing a multidisciplinary approach to the care, reproduction, and restoration of critically endangered species.
WELCOME TO THE CHEETAH CONSERVATION STATION
The Cheetah Conservation Station is home to more than just cheetahs. Zebras, red river hogs, sitatunga and Abyssinian ground hornbills all reside here as well — along with some of the most threatened species in the world, including Dama gazelles and scimitar-horned oryx. Several animals at the Cheetah Conservation Station share space in mixed-species exhibits, providing the animals an opportunity to interact just as they would in their native habitats.
MAXIMIZING REPRODUCTIVE POTENTIAL
Scientists at the Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have been studying the behavior, breeding and health of many species at the Cheetah Conservation Station. At SCBI, biologists collect behavior and hormone data on cheetah populations to optimize breeding success.
- Seven Cheetah Cubs Born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, July 9, 2018
STABLE ZOO POPULATIONS SUPPORT REINTRODUCTION INTO WILD SPACES
The Zoo’s reproductive physiologists pioneered artificial insemination techniques for the scimitar-horned oryx to ensure reproduction between valuable but behaviorally incompatible pairs.
- Extinct in the wild for more than 35 years, scimitar-horned oryx are back in their native habitat thanks to international collaboration and the power of science.
A MULTIDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO ANIMAL CARE
Like cheetahs and oryx, maned wolves and Dama gazelles participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. Staff at SCBI are working to understand reproductive behavior and physiology, parental behavior, infant behavior and development, nutrition, health and disease of these species.
- Dama Gazelle Calf's First Time in the Yard
Amaya did great out in the yard with the herd! She ran and jumped, but stayed close to the adults. Her mom kept a close eye on her while she was figuring out her legs.
The Zoo’s Gabon Biodiversity Program has been on the front lines of integrating conservation needs with development priorities to sustain biodiversity in Gabon and training the next generation of conservation practitioners. The Gamba Complex of Protected Areas in southwestern Gabon is rich in biodiversity, encompassing many habitat types and species of concern, including gorillas, forest elephants and sea turtles.
- Axel Litona, then an SCBI Gabon Biodiversity program intern, and Pierre Nicaise Guissiegou, road project field assistant, collecting data on frogs in the field in Gabon.
HABITAT ENRICHMENT TO ENCOURAGE EXPLORATION AND PLAY
Cheetah Conservation Station keepers, as well as those at our Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA, provide the animals with enrichment—enclosures, socialization, objects, sounds, smells and other stimuli—to enhance their well-being and give them an outlet to demonstrate their species-typical behaviors. An exhibit’s design is carefully and deliberately planned to provide physically and mentally stimulating toys, activities, and environments for the Zoo’s animals. Each enrichment is tailored to give an animal the opportunity to use its natural behaviors in novel and exciting ways. As with any enrichment activity, an animal can either choose to participate or not.
- Enrichment in action.
Several animals at the Cheetah Conservation Station share space in mixed-species exhibits, providing the animals an opportunity to interact just as they would in their native habitats. But even the animals that don’t share the same exhibit—such as the cheetahs and the zebras—can interact and socialize with each other. A zebra often gallops along the fence that separates the two species’ enclosures, and the cheetahs will run alongside. The interaction encourages natural behaviors—all from a safe distance.