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Longleat cheetah cubs

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Tue 06 Dec 2016

Longleat cheetah cubs

A SOCIAL media campaign started by the team at Longleat has resulted in the naming of two of the safari park’s young cheetahs being named.

The two twelve-weeks old cheetahs, now called Poppy and Winston, were the subject of a campaign on Facebook, giving fans of the Warminster safari park the opportunity to submit their ideas for what they thought the cubs should be called. The competition was first started at the beginning of November with the aim to announce the winning names on International Cheetah Day on Sunday (December 4).

Steve Mytton, spokesman for Longleat, said: “We have a lot of fans on social media so we posted the idea on there for people to come up with their ideas on what we should name the cubs. Luckily we knew that we had one boy and one girl so it made it easier for everyone to pitch in their ideas.”

The cubs, which are now with their mother Wilma in an isolated area, are being prepared for their first venture into the outdoors. The cheetahs are a rare addition to the Longleat family as the animals are classed as vulnerable, on the way to becoming endangered.

“They are about 12 weeks old at the moment so they have a little bit of time before they are released into the park. We have a hands-off approach to the animals when they are growing as this gives them the time to spend with their mother which is an important bond. We just look out for signs of discomfort and make sure they settle in well,” added Mr Mytton.

The birth of the cubs Poppy and Winston has come almost five years after their parents Wilma and Carl first arrived at the park.

Eloise Kilbane, a keeper at Longleat, said: “Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa.

“This means they, and their offspring, are genetically distinct from the vast majority of the cheetah within Europe.”

WT REPORTER -  Patrick McLean, Devizes reporter