Roy Keane and Sonia O Sullivan have long been crowdpleasers and now their namesakes are following in kind with two Northern cheetah cubs christened Roy and Sonia after the popular Cork athletes.
Roy and Sonia are two of five Northern cheetah cubs born on August 10 at Fota Wildlife Park, with the three others called Arlo, Mia and Cora.
Over 900 names were submitted as part of a public competition to find names for the five cubs to fotawildlife.ie.
The winners, who each received a year-long Conservation annual pass were Ava Connolly from Dublin who suggested Mia, Faye McNamara from Cork who suggested Arlo, Noel and Emma O ’Herlihy from Limerick who suggested Sonia and Sadhbh Barry Murphy from Cobh who suggested Roy.
Julien Fonteneau, Lead Ranger said “We were delighted to receive such a great response from the public to our naming competition. The animal ranger team had our work cut out trying to choose the winners from the huge choice of names.” He continued “Two of the suggested names were very easy to select. Roy Keane shares the same birthday as the cubs and we felt it was very fitting to name a cheetah, as the fastest land animal, after our local Olympic track medallist, Sonia O’Sullivan.”
The Northern cheetah subspecies is considered Endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as there are less than 800 left in the wild. A total of 238 cheetahs have been born at Fota Wildlife Park since 1984.
Fota Wildlife Park participates in the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) breeding programmes to conserve the genetic diversity of endangered and vulnerable species, like the cheetah.
Fota Wildlife Park cares for 135 species of which 75 species face the danger of extinction in the wild.