With great sadness we report that Majani, the 124th cheetah born in our cheetah breeding program, pioneer of the Cheetah Run program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, largest ambassador cheetah ever recorded, guest favorite, and PR star passed away. Majani was found by two of his senior trainers in his enclosure that morning. There is no evident trauma, and he was not suffering from any specific illness. Unfortunately, cheetahs are notorious for a very short life span in comparison with other cat species.
Majani is survived by sister Kubali (an ambassador at the San Diego Zoo), and Clifford, his companion dog. Clifford was instrumental in Majani’s training and will continue to assist with our youngest cheetah ambassador, Kiburi, as well as our trained hyenas, warthog, and camel.
Majani was hand raised at the San Diego Zoo’s nursery. In May 2002, Majani and Clifford moved from the Zoo to the Safari Park to be a part of a new Animal Encounters program. Majani and Clifford were an instant hit at the Park. They made 410 appearances a year, from Animal Encounters to national television shows. In 2003, Majani began to train for an off-leash sprint after a mechanized lure. This training culminated in the birth of the Safari Park’s original Cheetah Run program.
Majani was the largest cheetah ever recorded in captivity at 144 pounds (65 kilograms). Although not deemed to go down in history as our strongest runner, no cheetah can top Majani for PR appearances. Majani and Clifford appeared on countless television programs including The Ellen Degeneres Show and America’s Funniest Home Videos. In 2011, they even took an airplane to New York to appear on the CBS Morning Show. Majani met many a conservationist, such as Laurie Marker from the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and, of course, Safari Park guests.
Everyone who met him was left with a feeling of awe and compassion after experiencing his magnificence and hearing the thunder of his continual purr. We will miss our dear friend always but will continue his good work with cheetah ambassadors Kiburi, Amara, Johari, and Shiley. Be sure to watch a video, below, made for our San Diego Zoo Kids site that features Majani!
Janet Rose Hinostroza is an animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.