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Hand-rearing a Cheetah Cub

Cheetah Kitten Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 2

Busch Gardens' animal care team has something new keeping them up at night -- a four-week-old baby cheetah that requires regular feedings and 24-hour care. The new cub was born at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens to a mother who wasn't able to care for him. When zoo keepers saw that the baby was not eating and having trouble gaining weight, they made the decision to hand-raise him at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Now, at a little more than two pounds, the cub is eating well, getting stronger and eagerly exploring his new home. Do NOT miss the video.

Cheetah Kitten Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 4b

Cheetah Kitten Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 1

Cheetah Kitten Busch Gardens Tampa Bay 3Photo credits: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Once he is old enough, he will join the group of cheetahs living in Cheetah Run, the innovative new habitat opening alongside the Cheetah Hunt launch coaster that will bring guests face to face with these agile predators. Upon reaching maturity, he may also become an important part of Busch Gardens’ plans for a cheetah breeding program that will help boost the population of these critically endangered animals.

Learn more below the fold.

Cheetahs are regulated by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), which tracks a species’ genetic lines in zoos around the world and makes recommendations as to where specific animals should be placed for successful breeding opportunities. It was on the SSP and Jacksonville Zoo’s advice that the new baby was brought to Busch Gardens.

Cheetahs are included on both the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species as well as on the US Endangered Species Act list of threatened species. Only approximately 12,400 cheetahs remain in the wild. Busch Gardens supports the conservation of and education about cheetahs through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which has donated nearly $100,000 to cheetah efforts in Africa since 2005 and also helps fund conservation programs for white rhinos, marine animals and many other species around the world.