Friday, April 22, 2011

And then here in the USA

Busch Gardens’ cheetah cub and his new puppy companion have been receiving plenty of attention recently, and now guests will have a name to put with the face.

At noon today, the park closed a Facebook poll that went live Thursday, offering the public an opportunity to vote for their favorite of four names for each of the animals. This afternoon, the 8 ½-week-old male cheetah cub will officially be named Kasi, which is Swahili for “one with speed.” The 16 ½-week-old female yellow Labrador puppy will be named Mtani, Swahili for “close friend.”

The name Kasi received 44% of the 1,103 votes entered in the cheetah’s poll; Mtani received 51% of the 1,360 votes entered in the puppy’s poll. More than 100 Facebook fans also offered their own suggestions for names, from “Sugar and Spice” to “Will and Kate” in honor of the upcoming Royal wedding.

Guests were able to see the pair for the first time over the weekend during supervised visits in their new playroom at Jambo Junction. Kasi and Mtani will continue to live in Jambo Junction for the next several months. Eventually, they will live together in a large outdoor area near the Cheetah Run habitat and make regular “sidewalk” appearances in the park, helping the park’s education team to teach guests about the plight of cheetahs in the wild and the importance of Busch Gardens’ conservation efforts.

Busch Gardens supports the conservation of and education about cheetahs through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which has donated nearly $100,000 to cheetah efforts in Africa since 2005 and also helps fund conservation programs for white rhinos, marine animals and many other species around the world.

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