A new interactive device at the Werribee Open Range Zoo helps visitors catch a glimpse of the elusive cheetah Kulinda.
The zoo has installed a joystick-operated observation camera that allows users to pan across the cheetah’s habitat to find Kulinda and deliver live footage to a nearby screen.
African River Trail zookeeper Suzanne Szabo said visitors often miss seeing nine-year-old Kulinda because of her impressive camouflage abilities.
“Kulinda is your standard predator,” Ms Szabo said.
“During the day, she prefers to use her camouflage to stay hidden and keep an eye on where everyone else is, which is often an area where she is hard to see.
“The cheetah observation camera allows our visitors to zoom in, move a camera around her exhibit to find where she’s hiding, and see how remarkable she is.”
A cheetah’s golden fur, native to central Iran and the African grasslands and plains, is almost completely covered by dark spots, which help them blend into the shadows of dense grasses.
This evolutionary adaptation not only helps cheetahs hunt their prey, but also helps protect the solitary big cats from larger predator species, such as lions and leopards.
Kulinda helps inform zoo guests about the threats that cheetahs face in the wild.
As a far-reaching carnivore, cheetahs are particularly vulnerable to habitat destruction caused by urbanization.
There are fewer than 7,000 cheetahs left in the wild, mostly in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania.
Cheetahs face threats, including being hit by farmers trying to protect their livestock, being killed on roads and illegal hunting and trafficking in wildlife.
All Werribee Open Range Zoo tickets must be pre-ordered online at zoo.org.au
Ticket holders aged 18 and over must present proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and follow state instructions.