Cheetah conservation going to the dogs

Threatened in their natural environment by humans, disease and habitat loss, cheetahs are an endangered species.  Some zoos have tried to address this by developing captive breeding programmes, but it has not been a success.  Furthermore, they a keep cheetahs in unnatural conditions, where they cannot do the thing they are most famous for: run fast.  As a consequence, captive cheetahs are often very stressed.

Dog tracks, meanwhile, are on a downward spiral; attendances have dropped and many tracks have closed.

I propose a radical idea, therefore.  Open up the dog tracks to captive cheetahs.  The big cats would get a proper run out, and the audiences would rise.  My idea may not be completely novel - in 1937, at Romford greyhound stadium, one Kenneth Gandar-Dower hosted a series of races between semi-domesticated cheetahs and greyhounds - but the previous iteration failed to realize two things: that cheetahs aren't very interested in racing, nor are they very interested in chasing artificial hares.

My scheme would therefore involve replacing the toy hares with real (dead) cheetah prey, such as gazelles, springboks or impalas. If the cheetah is a female, she will run alone; if a male, he will race with his pack.  The sharp turns of the race track might need to be modified too, but the problem is not insurmountable.  I am sure it would benefit the cheetahs immeasurably, and might even enable zoo-reared cheetahs to be reintroduced successfully to the wild.

Next time: how the grass courts at Wimbledon can be used to house individuals of the critically endangered northern hairy-nosed wombat.
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