Acinonyx Jubatus/CheetahVulnerable

Interesting facts about Willow

  • Willow was born on 1st July 2017 at Wingham Wildlife Park near Canterbury, her parents are Kikay who resides at Wingham and her father is our very own handsome boy Bajrami.
  • Willow was born as part of the co-ordinated breeding programme to help maintain genetic diversity within the captive population.
  • Willow's favourite toy is "Dolly" her Cheetah soft toy (in fact there are several of these!) She still plays with these as an adult.
  • This photo depicts Willow's personality so well, she is such a happy and content young lady, we hope that one day she will have cubs of her own.
  • Willow has the loudest purr, she is known to purr as soon as she spots people approaching her enclosure. It's the cutest!
  • Willow starred in the BBC documentary series Big Cats About The House alongside Maya the Jaguar.

Cat Care Gifts for Willow

Willow's story

Willow is the daughter of  The Big Cat Sanctuary resident, Bajrami and Kiko who lives at Wingham Wildlife Park, Willow was bred as part of the co-ordinated breeding programme.

She arrived at The Big Cat Sanctuary in November 2017 after being injured whilst in her enclosure with her two brothers. A decision was taken by the team at Wingham that having all three cubs back with mum could be hazardous as Kiko could be overly protective of Willow due to her injury and potentially harm the two male cubs.

Willow’s move to the Sanctuary meant she would be the second cub to be receiving specialist care as a young cub. Maya the Jaguar was already getting round the clock care by the team. However Willow had physically recovered from her fractured front paw by the time she arrived at the Sanctuary, it was a few confidence issues and familiarisation that needed attention. It wasn’t long before her cheeky nature but gentle nature shone through with her keeper carers. In no time at all Willow was enjoying lots of playtime –  hide and seek and demonstrating her running, jumping and climbing skills.

Willow is a very content cat with the loudest purr, she really does win the heart of all who are lucky enough to get the opportunity to meet her and hear her motor-like purr. She is an excellent ambassador for her species and it is hoped that being born into the co-ordinated breeding programme that she will one day become a mother  herself, we think she will be a fabulous parent to cubs. This can only happen once the Sanctuary have a recommendation for her to reproduce.

About Cheetahs

The cheetah is widely known as the planet’s fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds of up to 68mph with a stride of 7 metres. However, unknown to many, it is also Africa’s most endangered wild cat too. There are estimated to be only 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild today. (2021)

They have a different body shape, they are narrow and lightweight with long slender limbs. Along with this their coat is covered in single spotted markings very unlike the leopard’s or jaguar’s rosetted coats. Alongside the distinctive tear-drop facial markings the cheetah are one of the most easily identifiable felids.

Although capable of reaching such incredible speeds, this can only be maintained for a short periods of time. Other adaptations which help them to run at these high speeds include a very flexible spine and tail, which flattens at the tip to provide a counter balance for sudden changes in direction. (Acting like a rudder effectively) Hardened footpads and semi-retractable blunt claws help to grip the ground similar to how a sprinters running spikes help them to increase speed. At top speed, there are just two moments in one stride when the cheetah’s body is completely off the ground: once with all four legs extended and once with all bunched under the body.

With just 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, and the future of this magnificent species remains uncertain across their range. Extinct in 25 countries and possibly extinct in a further 13 countries, cheetahs have vanished from approximately 91 percent of their historic range. They are extinct in Asia apart from a single, isolated population of perhaps 50 individuals in central Iran.

Cheetahs are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Cheetah are also know to have larger litters of cubs than many other species, this maybe due to the high mortality rate of cubs in their habitats. Being that they are never at the top of the food chain within their range, these cats are more passive and much less likely to walk away from confrontation than to fight.

These agile felines hunt during the day to avoid competition from other powerful predators such as lions, hyenas and leopards their tear marks absorb light to protect their eyes from the sun’s glare in exactly the same way as wearing a pair of shades! Cheetahs are carnivores and live off other animals they find on Africa’s plains, including rabbits, warthogs, springboks, gazelles and birds.




IUCN Red List Category Vulnerable(VU)

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