Big cats, Florida-style

Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL, has just two types of big cats, but they are well worth seeing. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a cheetah, although I’ve tried. Several zoos I’ve visited lately have advertised this version of spotted cat, but they’ve been busy napping, or hiding, when I stopped by.

My husband and some of our extended family stalked the cheetah enclosure a few times last week, and we were able to withstand the heat and humidity long enough to stay for the cheetah “talk” that afternoon. Like most cats, the big females slept and rested through most of the day, but roused themselves when three of their keepers, armed with big poles just in case, came through the gate for a visit.

cheetah comin
Is it dinnertime, yet?

The three girls made halfhearted attempts at playing with balls tossed around by the staff members, but it was too hot for them to agree to play. They did, however, lay down well in sight of our group, and tolerated much picture taking, to our delight.

We learned that cheetahs can run up to 50 mph, but only in short sprints. In the wild, they gorge themselves so much on prey they have to rest before moving on to digest their meal in a safe place. Wild cheetahs live in Africa, and the females are solitary unless mating or mothering cubs. Since there are no male cheetahs at the Brevard Zoo, these girls will be kept together as long as they tolerate each others’ company.

Earlier in the day, we spied several sleeping jaguars. One wanted to be left alone.

sleepin jaguar(1)
This big cat slept away the afternoon.

The other, we spied napping by a wall, looking very much like it would enjoy a nice scratch under the chin. The enclosure wisely prevented anyone from trying.

jaguar nap
While it looks like a big house cat, this pretty jaguar would not make a good pet.

3 thoughts on “Big cats, Florida-style

  1. Haha, I love seeing big cats acting just like house cats! Good call about jaguars not making good pets though. Behaviors that are innocent enough among house cats, such as rough play or a quick swipe to say “I’m frustrated” take on a whole new meaning when the cat weighs as much as its human. Not to mention the harm the pet trade causes to wild populations.

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    1. They’re all so pretty. I could watch them all day! But, yes, unfortunately, they are dangerous. I remember my first glimpse of a mountain lion, which I think looks like a big house cat. After I watched it for a while, I realized they are much more powerful than they look!

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