Oregon Zoo welcomes pair of cheetah sisters

Darlene, one of two new cheetahs at the Oregon Zoo, explores her Predators of the Serengeti habitat. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Zoo.

There are two new furry faces at the Oregon Zoo: Mary Jane and Darlene, a pair of female cheetahs.

The sisters recently moved to the zoo from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They switched places with Ranger and Strike, two male 7-year-old cheetahs who returned to San Diego and will be paired with female partners there.

So far, Mary Jane and Darlene have adjusted well to life in Portland in the zoo’s Predators of the Serengeti section, according to caregivers.

“They’ve been very playful,” said curator Becca Van Beek, who oversees the zoo’s Africa area. “There’s been a lot of typical cat behavior: chase, pounce, ambush — and, of course, sleep. One of them even jumped up into a tree — something you don’t see too often, but it’s a natural cheetah behavior.”

The sisters will both turn 2 years old in November. The pair look very similar, but Mary Jane has a distinct J-shaped spot on her front left paw that visitors can try to spy.

Cheetahs are known as the world’s fastest land animal and there are about 7,000 of them living on the planet currently.

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