Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cheetah passengers

Flight from Gode to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Tuesday, 11/29/05 - On time Two cheetah cubs were airlifted to safety without incident when it was learned that they were being held captive and abused in a remote village. "Scout" and "Patch" (2nd image) were transported on a U.S. military plane under the care of an Ethiopian government veterinarian. Following their 680-mile journey, they were released on the grounds of the Ethiopian president’s official residence.

Flight from Portland, Oregon, to Memphis, Tennessee, Friday, 10/30/08 - Baggage delay After a Delta 757 passenger airliner touched down in Atlanta on the way to its final destination, a baggage handler was bitten when opening the cargo door. One of the 2 cheetahs they were transporting was loose inside and had to be tranquilized before passengers' luggage could be offloaded. Animal handlers from nearby Zoo Atlanta took both of the big cats to their facility until a team from the Memphis Zoo arrived to pick them up.

Flight from Melbourne to Adelaide, Australia, Wednesday, 12/8/10 - 1-hour delay Passengers who had boarded a Qantas flight were informed by the pilot, "We're sorry for the delay, but we're having some problems loading the cheetah." Although the airline transports tens of thousands of animals each year - including penguins, a gorilla, a crocodile, Tasmanian devils, livestock, and even a hippo - ground staff in this case had problems loading the pallet carrying "Tokoloshe" (1st image). A spokeswoman said it was not due to the cheetah being upset, although the captain decided to take off without her. The cheetah left aboard another aircraft 2 hours later and was reported to be unaffected by the delay in her delivery to the Monarto Open Range Zoo.

This is good news, because the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine reports that "some cheetahs have a prolonged stress response when moved between facilities." One reason cheetahs and other animals are frequent flyers is to participate in captive breeding programs meant to sustain threatened or endangered species.

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