Cheetahs arrive at the Zoo for the first time in history

They can accelerate faster than most sports cars and can cover 20 feet in one stride. They’re cheetahs, and they went on public exhibit today at the Zoo. This is the first time in the Zoo’s 115-year history cheetahs have been on exhibit.

The fastest land animals in the world, cheetahs are known for their sprinting speed. They can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds and can reach speeds of 70 mph. The Virginia Zoo’s two male littermates, Chester and Rico, were born in October 2013 and arrived in Norfolk last month. They are on permanent loan from the Metro Richmond Zoo.


Our boys, weighing approximately 100 pounds each, were in quarantine since their arrival last month to assure they were healthy before going on exhibit. Their new home is now in the Africa-Okavango Delta area across from the giraffes and past the red river hog habitat. We renovated the exhibit to be more suitable for Chester and Rico by adding high rocks and deadfall – fallen trees – to the habitat, because cheetahs like to perch and survey the landscape.

Cheetahs are tan with black spots all over their bodies and “tear” marks that run from their eyes to their mouths that help to reflect the sun’s glare when hunting during the day. These marks also function like sights of a rifle to help cheetahs stay focused on their prey. Built for speed, cheetahs have slender bodies, long legs and tails and small heads.

Cheetahs’ flexible spines allows the front legs to stretch far forward on each stride. Their long tails help with balance, and small heads lower wind resistance. Cheetahs do not roar. Instead they purr, chirp, hiss, whine and growl.

Come out to see the cheetahs in their new habitat and enjoy the spring weather at the Zoo!