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Fans petition Busch Gardens Tampa to change Cheetah Hunt's name back to Cheetaka

By Robert Niles
Published: October 13, 2010 at 11:58 AM
Yeah, Busch Gardens Tampa tricked us.

The Florida theme park had fans online convinced that its new launch roller coaster would be called Cheetaka. The park's parent, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, had applied for a trademark for that name, sparking the rumors. And Busch Gardens did little to diminish the speculation, with the name Cheetaka showing up in concept art and even the document title for the pre-announcement press release that the park e-mailed yesterday.

Many of us even joked about what we thought yet another poorly-kept theme park industry secret. I tweeted yesterday, in response to the e-mail, that this was the "Worst-kept secret since, well, the last attempt by a theme park to keep a name secret. :^)"

The joke's on us, instead. This morning, Busch Gardens announced that the name of the ride would be… Cheetah Hunt.

Concept art of Cheetah Run
Concept art of Cheetah Hunt, provided by Busch Gardens

Was it all a ruse? A distraction to finally score a win over the theme park rumor detectives online? Or was Cheetaka a development name that the park jettisoned at the last moment?

No matter what the answer, something interesting happened along the way. Many Busch Gardens fans feel in love with the name "Cheetaka." (Which always reminded me of a really awful Kurt Thomas gymnastics movie, but I might be the only person alive who remembers that bomb.)

Some fans now have started an online petition to urge Busch Gardens to bring back the Cheetaka name. They're citing as inspiration the recent social media campaign that convinced clothing retailed The Gap to dump its proposed new logo in favor of keeping its existing one. And they've focused on the confusion over the Cheetah Hunt name, which led some people - including me - to think it references a hunt of cheetahs, rather than a hunt by cheetahs.

What do you think about the ride's name? Will you be signing the petition?

Readers' Opinions

From Frank Forrester on October 13, 2010 at 12:15 PM
I will have to agree that I like the original name better. Robert you are not the only one who remembers the movie Gymkata. I actually liked the movie back then even though it was a little cheesy.
From 67.224.251.170 on October 13, 2010 at 1:11 PM
Yep Cheetaka has a little more ring to it, that plain old Cheetah Hunt. (Regardless of the Cheetah doing the hunting or being the hunt-E! Lol!) But what if Busch Gardens has already set this name into production, or flyers, signs, or ads of some sort. I'll be harder to change it then.Who knows how much importance the petition will carry over at Seaworld Parks. But I agree Robert is interesting.

I'm really excited since it doesn't look like any other Roller Coaster in Florida. Regardless of how it turns out...

From Brandon Mendoza on October 13, 2010 at 1:50 PM
I'm in total agreement that Cheetah Hunt kinda makes it unclear... are the Cheetah being hunted, or are they doing the hunting? Cheetaka sounds so much better anyway.

Gymkata on the other hand... wasn't that during the time of the Karate and Ninja explosion in Hollywood?

That was the most accurate depiction of martial arts in the 19... I can't even continue that comment! Probably one of the best movies for unintentional humor! How convenient that a pommel horse magically appeared in the rock formation for Kurt Thomas to do his flairs, as well as a high bar in between buildings?

From Daniel Etcheberry on October 13, 2010 at 1:56 PM
What an exaggeration. It's not like the roller coaster is going to be named "kill the cheetah"

What about naming it "Cheetos" ? Kids will love it!

From Robert Niles on October 13, 2010 at 2:40 PM
Only if Chester Cheetah is involved.
From 192.234.2.24 on October 13, 2010 at 2:47 PM
I like that most of the other coasters in the park have such cool African-sounding names... Kumba, Sheikra, Montu, Gwazi. Cheetaka just sounds like it belongs in that group; Cheetah Hunt is lame by comparison.
From 72.188.21.43 on October 13, 2010 at 3:41 PM
As an Zoologist at another zoo I find the name Cheetah HUNT to be offensive. It goes against everything that we work for is zoos. Shame on Busch Gardens for this poor choice of a title for an attraction- I am totally signing that petition and getting everyone I know to do it as well!
From Formula 40 on October 13, 2010 at 4:23 PM
Please change it back 2 Cheetaka. Cheetah Hunt sounds like a kid's coaster anyway.
From Daniel Binder on October 13, 2010 at 4:37 PM
I wonder if it had anything to do with Cheetaka sounding too much like Sheikra? I'm Deaf, and I realize the two names sound different, but do they sound significantly different? BG brass may have felt otherwise.
From Anthony Murphy on October 13, 2010 at 8:18 PM
Cheetah Hunt sounds very bad for an animal park. Hunting?
From David Brown on October 14, 2010 at 2:07 AM
I wonder if this is another cultural thing... I've noticed that in the US folks seem much more likely to jump to conclusions about a name or an implication... (Bet I'll be shot down in flames for that comment!).

Cheetahs are carnivores. They are hunters. That's what they spend their life doing. This coaster is designed to put you the rider into the cheetah as it hunts it's prey - accelrating swiftly across the serangeti, hugging the ground, twisting and turning quickly from side to side. You'll be mimicing the Cheetah as it hunts its prey. In that respect 'Cheetah Hunt' is a perfect name for it because that's what it is - the hunt of the cheetah.

You can't have animals that hunt others and not use the word 'hunt'. Nature is cruel and brutal and whilst I accept that zoos or animal parks are not in the business of encouraging people to hunt animals they are in the business of educating pewople about animal behaviour and that includes facing the fact that animals are killers - even beautiful furry kitty-cat-like animals such as cheetahs.

And I suspect that the new habitat they are creating and teh pre-ride walk-through and theming will make it VERY clear just what's going on.

The only thing in favour of 'Cheetaka' is that it continues the kind of abstract naming of the other major coasters, (and continues the tradition of ending each name with a vowel), and it sounds kind of cool. But this is a very different kind of coaster and I think the name works really well. Even before you ride it tells you what sort of experience you are going to have....

From 72.188.21.43 on October 14, 2010 at 5:06 AM
If the park wanted to avoid confusion they could have simply added a 's after the word Cheetah--- making the name Cheetah's Hunt. In the English language we use ' to show possession-- that would have made their intention clear.

Think of it this way. If you were to add THE before the ride's name (as so many patrons seem to do for some reason) it becomes something like this... "let's go on the Cheetah Hunt". Sounds bad in my opinion.

The name also reminds me of the classic Nintendo game, Duck Hunk-- where you the player HUNTS for ducks.

Terrible terrible name.

From Brandon Mendoza on October 14, 2010 at 7:29 AM
@ David Brown - While I do agree that there are definitely cultural differences in different countries, or even regions in a country, I'm not sure that's why people have a problem with the name. It's more of the choice of words.

The first thing that pops in my head now that I think about it from that name is a Cheetah BEING hunted. Not a Cheetah hunting its prey. Cheetah Hunt sounds like "We will be going on a Cheetah Hunt" rather than "the Cheetah is hunting its prey".

While you are correct that a Cheetah is a hunter, it can also be hunted by humans. I think that's where the problem lies. They could have called it Hunt of the Cheetahs and that can still sound like "These guys are going on a Hunt of the Cheetahs".

From Phil B. on October 14, 2010 at 9:08 AM
Because of the name of this ride, I am soooo going to Africa to hunt Cheetah's now. Busch Gardens, what have you done?
From Bobby Miller on October 14, 2010 at 2:17 PM
How about calling it "Cheetah's Prey", with the riders being the prey and the cheetah is chasing them. All you do is change the focus from the cheetah's point of view, to the view of the animal the cheetah's chasing. And if the coaster's wicked enough, "the prey (riders) might pray" to get off the coaster. Can you see the PR for that concept?

Bobby, formally known as Bob & Robert!!!!!!!

From David Brown on October 14, 2010 at 2:33 PM
So here is Busch Gardens - famously known the world over for its animal conservation work, a terrific reputation for fostering understanding of animals and the very last people in the world who would encourage anything bad towards an animal- and the first thing that you think of when they announce their new coaster is that they are encouraging you to hunt down an animal? Where does that come from???? It's the very last interpretation I would ever put on this name and the internet reaction to the name just staggers me.

My suspicion is that 99% of the ordinary public are going to have no problem whatsoever 'getting' the concept here and that the remaining 1% will pretty quickly be educated out of that by the theming and pre-show walk-through.

However internet forums are never about the 99% so I guess the protests will continue regardless.....

From Formula 40 on October 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM
My thing is I don't care about people's opinions about the name suggesting we should hunt animals. What theme park guest even thinks to do that? Most people who ride coasters care very little for theming. I just think Cheetaka is just a better name. Cheetah Hunt does not sound as good.
From 151.145.238.92 on October 14, 2010 at 4:30 PM
Does anyone realize that there is another roller coaster in Busch Gardens called Cheetah Chase??
From 97.79.87.71 on October 14, 2010 at 9:15 PM
Let's see...... Kumba, montu, shiekra, gwazi..........cheetah hunt? Oh good grief - Busch gardens is a place of wonder and adventure and while being one of the top five zoological attractions in the states it also offers us the hope of escaping reality for a few hours. And that aspect is more important than ever with things the way they are in the world. Cheetah hunt doesn't get us there.....this is not a six flags where they clear a parking lot throw some grass seed and throw a ride up more quickly than u can say spinal protocol. Come on blackstone of the concrete jungle...jeez u have the name of one of the greatest magicians of all time - so put the magic back into Busch gardens and tell the "suit" to tuck cheetah hunt back in his pocket...yes his pocket As no woman would lack the sense to call a ride in a nature preserve cheetah hunt. 5 to 1 it changes back.
From Mark Hollamon on October 15, 2010 at 7:57 AM
@ David- Cultural? Yes. Maybe a little overboard on the protests? Yes. Do I agree with the 99% of the people responding on this thread? Yes!

Ok, the coasters at Busch Gardens have exotic names and Cheetah Hunt doesn't follow the theme. End of that argument.

As far as Cheetahs being "hunters" we all know that and we probably all love nature shows with the one exception and that is when animals hunt and kill for food. It is something we all know happens, but we don't need to see it, want to see it, or have any images of it in our heads.

I love a good burger but I don't want to see a cow slaughtered, need to see a cow slaughtered, or have mental images of a cow being slaughtered.

While I am not going to protest in front of Busch Gardens I would probably sign a petition letting them know how I feel. At the end of the day if they keep the name Cheetah Hunt for the coaster, so be it. It's their park and I will still go and ride it until my eyes cross!

I value your opinion! I just don't share it. Cheers!

From Brandon Mendoza on October 15, 2010 at 8:57 AM
I'm not saying that the park is encouraging us to hunt an animal. It's just that I can see where the confusion would be coming from, especially when they changed the name from Cheetaka to Cheetah Hunt. Just like "Manta", why not just call it "Cheetah"? And like others have said, it doesn't fit in the theme of the rest of the rides at Busch.

And now that I think about it, Leopards and Lions do hunt Cheetahs, both adults and cubs. So maybe someone can think that the Cheetah is being hunted? And the coaster mimics the chase?

But back to the use of words... it would be like Sea World naming a new ride "Orca Hunt" or "Killer Whale Hunt"... not exactly the best use of words, painting an image of an Orca being chased down.

I mean if you think about it, the only people who really read press releases are the fans, not the general public.

But even though Busch Gardens is known for its animal conservation work, it's still a business run by big wigs/ "suits" who may or may not even care about animals. They care about numbers and who knows, someone may have pushed for the name "Cheetah Hunt" because it was their idea and used their pull to get it. We don't know the politics involved behind the scenes if any at all.

From Jason Jackson on October 15, 2010 at 9:26 AM
And this could all be a publicity stunt to keep the news in the foreground. Think of all the publicity GAP has gotten...
From David Brown on October 16, 2010 at 2:22 AM
Now that may be nearer the truth! As a name 'Cheetah Hunt' is pretty lame for a Coaster, especially set against the other great names they have - (I actually cant' think of another park where teh names of the coasters imbue such character to teh rides even before you step aboard them - Montu, Kumba, Gwazi, Shiekra all sound like ancient Gods or mythical beings and as such build the tremendous sense of anticipation before you ride. 'Cheetah Hunt' really doesn't come close to doing the same). It's factual and describes what will happen but I have to agree I think they have it wrong, (even though that wasn't my point). But it sure gets the internet going and they do say all publicity is good publicity... :)

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