Dickerson Park Zoo’s cheetah cubs named after fundraiser

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The cheetah cubs at Dickerson Park Zoo now have names — Crocker, Art and Faith.

The trio were born Oct. 1 via C-section by Dr. Stephanie Zec at Dickerson Park Zoo’s animal hospital. The cheetah care team committed to hand-raising the cubs after the decision was made to perform a C-section.

Up until this week, the cubs had been referred to as A, B and C.

More than $3,000 was raised through a naming competition and the money will go toward improving the animal hospital at Dickerson Park Zoo, said Joey Powell, zoo spokeswoman.

The two boys and one girl are named after people close to the zoo, including Zoo Director Mike Crocker, who has been with the zoo for more than 40 years.

Joey Powell, marketing director at the Dickerson Park Zoo, takes a photo of Mike Crocker, Dickerson Park Zoo director, Art Hains and Faith Koppes, Dickerson Park Zoo administrative assistant, who three new cheetah cubs are named after on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

“This is the first animal named Crocker, so it was time,” Powell said. “Art, of course, is the legendary Art Haines and Faith (Koppes) is our administrative assistant. I call her the glue that holds the zoo together.”

This was the first time the zoo has held a fundraiser to help name an animal, but the response was amazing, Powell said.

“Especially considering that the majority of them, you’re talking $5 votes,” she said. “People got behind it and we are thrilled.”

The money will go toward moving the animal hospital’s lab around and having a designated space to take blood, urine and fecal samples, Powell said.

A cheetah cub plays in an outdoor enclosure at the Dickerson Park Zoo on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. After a fundraiser that netted more than $3,000 for the zoo's animal hospital the cubs have names, Art, Crocker, and Faith.

“It’s kind of like a home improvement project to make this lab space and upgrade some equipment,” Powell said.

The cubs are nearly two months old and are very playful.

“They are no longer having to go home with the cheetah care team,” Powell said. “They’re on a full meat diet now and they can go through the night, so they are staying at the zoo now instead of having to rotate between the three caregivers.”

“Crocker and Art seem to be together the most,” Powell continued. “(Faith) is very independent and kind of does her own thing, but every once in awhile, the boys will be playing, and she’ll dive in between them. They’re healthy and growing and adorable.”

A cheetah cub named Faith plays in an outdoor enclosure at the Dickerson Park Zoo on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. After a fundraiser that netted more than $3,000 for the zoo's animal hospital the cubs have names, Art, Crocker, and Faith.

The cubs will continue to call Dickerson Park Zoo home for the time being. On especially warm days, guests may be able to see them in cheetah zone; however, the cubs are not on exhibit.

“There is no set schedule,” Powell said. “It’s like (having) little kids. If you had a little baby, all the family can’t see them at the same time and they still have to nap and they still have to eat.”

Dickerson Park Zoo is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sara Karnes is a breaking news reporter with the Springfield News-Leader. Got a story to tell? Email her at skarnes@springfi.gannett.com.

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