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Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

History of Managed Care

Early records

  • Some images of cheetahs in managed care are very old
    • Sumerian seal shows leashed cheetah (c. 3000 BCE)
    • Found at a burial site dated from 700-300 BCE contains cheetah images in Caucasus
    • Dated from 309-246 BCE (Ptolomy II, in Egypt)
  • Cheetahs used as coursers (hunting assistants) throughout Asia, Northern Africa and Europe
    • Mongol emperors between 13th-16th centuries kept hundreds of trained cheetahs
      • Kublai Khan had an extensive stable of hunting cheetahs
    • Demand for hunting cheetahs created continual drain on the wild population
      • Hand-raised cubs could not be trained to hunt, so young adult males captured from the wild were used
    • Records of hunting with cheetahs exist from Scythians, Assyrians, ancient Egyptians, and Indians
    • In Italy, cheetahs were used as hunters from 5th century to early Renaissance
    • George III of England had a hunting cheetah

Early note on birth in managed care

  • A single record prior to the 20th century
    • Occured in the palace of a 15th century Mongol emperor

Recent Historical Notes


  • Zoological Society of London
    • 1829; housed a young cheetah though the animal survived less than a year

North America

  • First individual in a U.S. Zoo
    • 1871, Central Park Zoo
    • 1939, 5 cheetahs presented to the Zoological Society of San Diego
      • A gift from Osa Johnson
    • 1956, first birth in managed care, Philadelphia Zoo
      • Litter did not survive
    • 1970, San Diego Zoological Society, litter of three cubs born (11/22/70)
      • Male cub, Juba, becomes first zoo-born cheetah cub to survive infancy
    • 1975, importation of wild-caught cheetahs dramatically reduced due to CITES legislation

Current Population

North America

  • 229 individuals, as of October 2014 (from Crosier et al. 2015)
    • 135 males, 155 females, 9 unknown
    • Housed across 53 AZA institutions

Husbandry History

Live Cheetah cam at the Indianapolis Zoo

Cheetah Enrichment


Walks are an important form of enrichment for cheetahs at the San Diego Zoo.

© San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Two cheetah sisters

Cheetah sisters at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Caro (1994)
Crosier et al. (2015)
Grisham (1997)

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