As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium began 2014 by launching an all new 15-acre Safari Park addition in January. At long last, the final jewel of the safari park has arrived–a young pair of cheetahs. The unrelated male and female are just over 1 year old having been born in 2013 at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre in South Africa. Originally known as the De Wildt Cheetah Centre, it is largely credited with preserving the threatened species with more than 800 cubs born since opening in 1971. Wildlife World’s longtime dedication to displaying and preserving endangered feline species like the cheetah includes a multiyear financial commitment to the cheetah conservation fund and other organizations focused on saving endangered species in Africa.

As the fastest land mammal on earth, Cheetahs are designed for speed and are capable of reaching up to 60 mph in just a few seconds. Their ability to sprint at high velocity in pursuit of small but speedy prey is short lived and often depletes their energy stores. Thus, it is imperative the cheetah trips up and subdues its prey quickly. Also, cheetahs are unlike most other cats in that their claws are only partially retractable, which helps to improve their traction while running. Given their sleek body shape, cheetahs are less able to defend themselves from large predators like hyenas and lions. Such competition combined with a cub mortality of about 60%, a natural “bottleneck” that has severely limited genetic variation among the entire population, and conflict with humans has made the species vulnerable to extinction. Its former range extended across much of Africa and Asia. Today it is restricted to shrinking and increasingly isolated dry grassland and savanna habitats in Africa and is nearly gone from Asia. Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park has committed to working with fellow accredited zoos from the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and other professional associations to promote the preservation of cheetahs living in human care and the wild through financial contributions, public education and participation in cooperative breeding programs for this and other vulnerable and endangered species.

The Safari Park increases Wildlife World’s developed area to about 80 acres and includes another dining option for zoo visitors at the Safari Grill. Visitors will appreciate dozens of shaded viewing locations that provide guests with multiple panoramic views of some of Africa’s most recognizable species including an all new African lion habitat, olive baboons, jackals, several varieties of antelopes, wildebeest, ostriches, and more. Visitors can walk around the safari park as well as take an optional tram ride (for an additional fee) through a half dozen animal exhibits. Entrance to the Safari Park, located by the zoo’s popular giraffe feeding station, is included with general admission.

As an USDA licensed, private institution, accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium receives zero taxpayer funding. No tax dollars have ever been spent to build or operate Wildlife World.

With the Safari Park collection plan of species now completed, attention turns to the next major expansion on 15 additional acres along the state route 303. This new project nicknamed “Adventure Land” is scheduled for fall of 2015 and will feature several ride attractions and species from the Americas including bears, mountain lion, and many more.

Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ (SE corner of state route 303 and northern Ave.) Were open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays.

Zoo exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last zoo admission is at 5:00 p.m.) Aquarium exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Daytime admission includes access to the zoo and aquarium. Special reduced evening admission to Aquarium-Only is available after 5:00 p.m.

For more info: (623) 935-WILD (9453) or visit us on facebook and www.WildlifeWorld.com.