Cheetahs given biosecurity all-clear, despite bout of spots

Contrary to their incriminating species name, four law-abiding cheetahs from the UK checked into quarantine at the Darling Downs Zoo last month, and have today been given the biosecurity all-clear.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, Lyn O’Connell said the one female and three male cheetahs travelled well and were settling into their new surrounds, after satisfying Australia’s strict biosecurity import conditions.

“We make sure no one is put on the spot—our biosecurity officers work closely with zoo officials long before the cheetahs catch their flights to make sure they’re checked for any unwanted pests or diseases from abroad,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Exotic animals such as these are transported in strong, custom-built, wooden crates with steel plated interiors, and when they arrive at the zoo, they’re moved to their spacious quarantine-approved enclosure where they are closely monitored by the zoo’s veterinarian as they acclimatise to their new environment.”

The new arrivals enjoy excellent views from their elevated enclosure and are in good company with a menagerie of fellow felidae—including a Sumatran Tiger, African Lions and White Lions—residing just down the road.

“These cats are not related to any other cheetahs in Australia, which makes them essential for a strong breeding program and their genes especially important for conserving the species and providing insurance against extinction,” Ms O’Connell said.

“Our strong biosecurity system means that Australian zoos are able to safely import threatened animals like cheetahs, which are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with the aim of conserving the species for future generations.

“Our biosecurity arrangements minimise the risk of exotic diseases threatening our health, animal health and agricultural industries. Without these we wouldn’t be able to visit a zoo to see these fascinating animals up close.

“Australia is fortunate to be free of many of the pests and diseases found throughout the world, so it’s important we take strict measures to keep biosecurity threats from hitching a ride in with zoo animals.”

Darling Downs Zoo directors, Steve and Stephanie Robinson, emphasised the importance of taking biosecurity seriously.

“Our visitors get a real thrill out of learning about our breeding programs for rare and exotic animals, but they can present a biosecurity risk coming from countries with pests and diseases not present here. We made sure we followed the strict biosecurity processes in place to manage this risk and protect our animals, our visitors and Australia in general,” Mr and Mrs Robinson said.

For more information on biosecurity in Australia, visit Biosecurity in Australia, and for information about Darling Downs Zoo.

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