You won’t have to ask your phone if this little girl is adorable. It is certainly clear that she is. Siri is being hand-reared by keepers at Western Plains Zoo after her mother rejected her.
Mum, Halla gave birth to Siri on May 21st 2015. As an experienced mother it was not expected anything would go wrong. Unfortunately cheetahs are normally born in litters of three to five and when just one is born mothers regularly reject them as a result of their low survival rates in the wild.
Siri is a Swahili word for “secret.” It is not secret that keepers care for their animals and this has led to them hand-rearing Siri.
Linda Matthews, Siri’s keeper said, “We were on alert when we knew there was only one cub, and after 24hrs based on what we were seeing, we intervened to give Siri the best chance of survival.
For the past six weeks Siri has received round the clock care from keepers. Recently under the advisement of vets they have also decided to find her a friend. Taking on the role of keeping up with this youngster will be a retriever cross mastiff puppy named Iris. Currently they are being introduced 2-3 times a day for short play sessions.
While Siri has not taken to Iris immediately Matthews explained that, “with every play session they seem to be improving their relationship. Siri can be a bit of a drama queen, she makes loud noises and swipes at Iris, but she keeps coming back for more play time.”
Cheetahs are vulnerable in the wild and prove difficult to breed in captivity. As such this birth is highly important. Siri joins the zoo’s successful breeding program which has seen litters born in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013. Taronga Western Plains Zoo was one of Australia’s first zoo’s to breed cheetah.
Matthews added, “Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable in the wild, and every birth is important. Although hand-raising can be challenging, as a strong female cub, Siri may one day have a important role to play for her species as part of the regional breeding program.”
Cheetahs are now only found in Africa, with just 10,000 remaining there. Previously 100,000 of these animals could be found ranging across Africa and Asia.
Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo