In my family, the big wild cats have been a subject of fascination for several years. My kids were thrilled to find out the Woodland Park Zoo was bringing two cheetahs in for a temporary exhibit, and we had the chance to see them on their first day on display, May 1.
Liz and Missy are 14-year-old cats on loan from the Wildlife Safari in Oregon. We observed Missy as she lounged in the sun, rolled in the grass and calmly watched the people watching her. The two cats have taken up residence in an open, grassy enclosure, and Zookeeper Amy Davis says they like their new environment.
My kids were interested to learn about what Liz and Missy eat. Cheetahs are carnivores, and eat around five pounds of meat a day. This is more than the Zoo’s jaguars eat! Liz and Missy also get special supplements to keep them healthy, because they are equivalent to 80-year-old human ladies.
Though they are past reproductive age, they’ve raised a combined total of 15 cubs in their lives.
Cheetahs are widely known as the fastest land mammal, but you won’t see Liz and Missy doing very much running. You can, however, observe their slim, lithe bodies, small ears, and distinctive spots and facial markings.
Children might be interested to learn that cheetahs are considered threatened over their African range, but the populations that remain in Namibia and Iran are critically endangered.
If you’d like to see the Liz and Missy in person, come on Saturday, May 3, for a grand opening celebration, with keeper talks and cheetah activities at the exhibit and in Zoomazium. .
More cool zoo: New lion, otter pups and more
- Wildlife Survival Zone: While you’re at the zoo, check out the newly designed Wildlife Survival Zone, just down from the cheetahs. You’ll find information about some of the species the zoo is helping to save, and the methods they use in cooperation with other agencies. We were fascinated by the Partula tree snails, which have their very own reproductive lab located near the Bug World. These tiny snails are native to Tahiti, but are extinct in the wild, and the Woodland Park Zoo is helping to reintroduce them to their homeland.
- My kids also thought the Bamboo Forest Reserve play area, which boasts a nature-themed playground (wobble bridge, mini zip line, balancing logs) and Asian small-clawed otter exhibit, was fun. We had hoped to see the otter pups there, but they were resting out of sight.
- We gasped at the sight of the newest lion, Xerxes, and took lots of photos of one of the adorable young giraffes. There are many other fascinating creatures to learn about, and keeper talks and animal feedings to experience. Check the list of daily activities for the Woodland Park Zoo.
If you go...
Where: 750 N. 50th St., Seattle
When: The Woodland Park Zoo is now on summer hours; gates are open from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and visitors can stay on the grounds until 6 p.m.
Tickets: $11.75–$18.75; ages 2 and under, free; $2 discount for transit riders
Daily activities: There are many daily activities for the Woodland Park Zoo, from keeper talks to feeding opportunities.
Pair with: Lunch a few blocks north at the super kid-friendly Phinney Market Pub & Eatery (5918 Phinney Ave. N.), starring gourmet pub food and a train table where kids can practice their sharing (or grabbing) skills.