Cheetah

Lively Litter of Seven Cheetahs Cubs Born

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The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) welcomed a litter of seven chirping Cheetah cubs July 9.

The cubs were born to first-time mother, Erin. Staff members report she has been attentive and immediately started caring for the cubs after they were born. The cubs appear to be healthy and doing well. Keepers will perform a health check on the cubs when Erin is comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time. In the meantime, the keepers will continue to monitor the mother and cubs closely through den cameras and visual checks to ensure they are growing and developing normally.

“It is really exciting to have such a large and healthy litter of cubs, especially from first-time parents,” said Adrienne Crosier, cheetah biologist. “Two of these cubs’ grandparents also live at SCBI, so they are the third generation from some of the first Cheetahs to ever live and breed here. That’s really good news for the Cheetah population worldwide. A global self-sustaining cheetah population in human care is becoming even more important with the continued decrease of animal numbers in the wild.”

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4_img_20180719_111536Photo Credits: Adriana Kopp/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

The cubs are important to the population of Cheetahs living in zoos because Erin’s genes are not well represented in the population of Cheetahs living in human care in North America. This is also the first litter of cubs sired by the cubs’ father, Rico. It is the 12th Cheetah litter bringing the number of cubs born at SCBI since 2010 to 53. Erin's cubs will likely move to other zoos or facilities accredited by the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) when they are mature and join the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan.

SCBI scientists are using a new fecal hormone test to determine pregnancy in cheetahs. Fecal samples from Erin will contribute to this research. Cheetah pregnancies last approximately 90 days, and it is difficult to tell if a female is pregnant until 60 days have passed. However, SCBI scientists are developing a non-invasive test to detect levels of IgJ, a protein synthesized by the immune system, in cheetah feces to determine if a female is pregnant in the first 30 days of her pregnancy.

Cheetahs are currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are only about 7,000 Cheetahs in the wild living in very fragmented habitats. SCBI is building a healthy and genetically diverse population of Cheetahs in human care using natural breeding and assisted reproduction techniques.

SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.  


Longleat Welcomes A Warrior Princess

1_Xena the cheetah cub close up at Longleat PIC Ian Turner (1400x933)

An abandoned Cheetah cub is being hand reared by her keeper at Longleat.

The female cub has been nicknamed “Xena”, after the warrior princess, which also marks her battling qualities.

Xena spent her first ten days being cared for by her mum, Wilma. However, keepers discovered the tiny cub was cold, weak and alone on April 19. Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to get mother and baby back together, the decision was taken by keepers to remove the cub and rear her by hand.

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3_Feeding time for Xena the cheetah cub at Longleat close up PIC Ian Turner (867x1300)

4_Feeding time for Xena the cheetah cub at Longleat  PIC Ian Turner (1000x1500)Photo Credits: Ian Turner (Images 1-4)/ Longleat

Keeper, Matt Cleverley, who has previously experienced hand-rearing a Cheetah while working in Africa, volunteered to look after the tiny cub. Matt’s wife, Kate, also a keeper at Longleat, also took up parenting duties.

The cub needs to be bottle-fed every four hours, day and night, until she is six weeks old. Then, she will start to be weaned on to a meat diet.

“No one is sure why Wilma, who was such a brilliant first-time mum with cubs Winston and Poppy in 2016, should have abandoned Xena,” said Matt.

“We did everything we could to try and get her to re-bond with the baby, but it wasn’t working, and we were faced with an extremely difficult choice of not interfering and letting the cub die or stepping in and attempting to rear her by hand.”

Matt continued, “It’s a huge responsibility, and we’re taking it day-by-day, but she is developing well and has already more than doubled her birth weight. So we’re cautiously optimistic that she will make it.”

“As with human babies, she does require round the clock care and attention, and Kate and myself share the duties between us.”

“It does mean the cub comes home with us at the end of each day, but it’s going to be very much worthwhile if we can help get her to a stage where she can fend for herself,” he added.

This is only the second Cheetah birth at Longleat, following the arrival of cubs Winston and Poppy in 2016.

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which means it is likely to become ‘Endangered’, unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

In 2008, the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs in Africa, and there are concerns the numbers have decreased significantly since then.

Longleat’s Cheetahs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.


Cheetah Siblings Get Extra Care in San Diego

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Visitors hoping to glimpse three Cheetah cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park weren’t disappointed when the trio debuted on February 22.  The three siblings – one male and two females – watched the people, explored their surroundings, played with each other and, typical of any infant, after one of their five daily feedings, settled in for a long nap.

The 7-week-old Cheetahs were born January 6 at San Diego Zoo Global’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Center to an inexperienced mom named Malana. In an effort to care for her cubs, Malana inadvertently caused minor injuries to them. After being with their mother for five weeks, the cubs were taken to the Animal Care Center to be monitored for medical issues. Keepers will keep close watch over them, feeding them a special diet of soft carnivore food and formula, and weighing them to monitor their health. After they turn 12 weeks old and receive their three-month immunization, they will be returned to their home at the Cheetah Breeding Center.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn

The Cheetah siblings don’t have names yet, but keepers call them “Purple,” “Yellow,” and “Blue” because of the colors of temporary ID markings placed on their tails. Purple is the smallest of the two sisters, and keepers describe her as feisty and very playful—and she has a big appetite. Yellow is also very playful and loves cuddling with her siblings; and Blue, the only male, loves to play and take extra-long naps.

Cheetahs are native to Africa and a small part of Iran. They are classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has dropped from 100,000 in 1900 to just 7,000 today, with about 10 percent living in zoos or wildlife parks.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities that are part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (CBCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 160 cubs born to date.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. Their work includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.

 


Litter of Eight Cheetahs Born at Saint Louis Zoo

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For the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a Cheetah has given birth to eight cubs. Three males and five females were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017.

In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female Cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.

The first few months of life are critical for newborn Cheetahs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s animal care staff is closely monitoring the new family and it appears that all eight cubs are healthy. Four-year-old Bingwa (BING-wah), which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the Cheetah care team.

“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs: grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.

5_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_web

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6_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Carolyn Kelly & Saint Louis Zoo (Images 1,2,4) / Saint Louis Zoo (Images 3,5)

Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cub’s nine-year-old father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.

“We’ve brought together Cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”

Since 1974, the Zoo has been a leader in Cheetah reproductive research and breeding. Over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Cheetah Breeding Center.

Historically, Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Today, fewer than 10,000 individuals inhabit a broad section of Africa, and less than 100 remain in Iran. Over the past 50 years, Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries. The main causes of decline are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition and lack of genetic diversity.

To help protect Cheetahs in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa is working with its partners in Tanzania and Namibia to coordinate cheetah conservation efforts, including education, research and other programs to mitigate human-cheetah conflicts.

“Cheetahs are frequently persecuted for killing livestock. Our conservation partners are finding ways to improve the lives of local herders by providing education opportunities, food and medical supplies, so they can live peacefully with Cheetahs and support their protection,” says Bircher.

According to staff, the Zoo’s mother and eight cubs are doing well and will remain in their private, indoor maternity den behind the scenes at River’s Edge for the next several months.

10_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web


Cheetah Cub Arrives at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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A six-week-old female Cheetah cub arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, on November 13, from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has suffered a substantial decline in its range due to hunting, and several African countries have taken steps to improve Cheetah conservation. By late 2016, the population had fallen to approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. Some researchers suggest that the animal could soon be reclassified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List.

In light of the challenges facing the future survival of the Cheetah, animal care staff in charge of the new little cub made the decision to hand-rear. After birth, the little female was very small compared to her four brothers and one sister. She could not successfully compete with her litter-mates at nursing time and was not gaining weight. Since bottle feedings began, she is now thriving and gaining weight consistently.

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Animal care staff now reports that the cub has a “sweet personality” and is very vocal. According to them, she seeks interaction and attention from her keepers. Although she is still formula-fed, it is now being mixed with meat. The growing cub is eating four times a day and weighs just over four pounds.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see the curious cub daily in the nursery at the park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center. She will remain at the Safari Park for about three months, and then will move to the San Diego Zoo, to become an ‘animal ambassador’.


Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo

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After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

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Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

Continue reading "Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo" »


Update: Cheetah Quints Growing Up at Prague Zoo

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Five Cheetah cubs born May 15 at Prague Zoo are growing up fast!  We introduced you to these fluffy quintuplets on ZooBorns back in June and the cubs are now thriving under the care of their six-year-old mother, Savannah.

The cubs are still behind the scenes at the zoo, but should move into their exhibit yard later this summer.

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Cheetah cubs remain with their mother for one to one-and-a-half years, and they are weaned at three to six months. The cubs spend a lot of time napping and playing. Play helps the cubs develop agility, as well as hone their chase and attack behaviors.  

Every cub born under human care is important to the future of Cheetahs as a species. They are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Fewer than 7,000 Cheetahs remain in eastern and southern Africa. Threats include conflict with humans, shrinking wild areas as farms and cities expand, and illegal trafficking in body parts. 

As a population, Cheetahs have very low genetic diversity, a possible cause of their low reproductive rates. Current conservation measures include cooperative programs across all countries in which wild Cheetahs are found.

 


Five Cheetah Cubs Fluff It Up at Monarto Zoo

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Five fluffy Cheetah cubs made their public debut this week at Australia’s Monarto Zoo.

Born in March to mother Kesho, the cubs immediately began exploring their new environment after bonding with Kesho in a private den for about three months.

One of the cubs is a male, and the other four are females. They each weigh about 15 pounds and are described as “very adventurous.”

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The prospect of adding four potential breeding females to the Cheetah population is thrilling for the Monarto Zoo staff. Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

Only about 6,700 Cheetahs remain in the wild, primarily in eastern and southwestern Africa, half of what it was 35 years ago.  As their habitats are fragmented into smaller pieces by the expansion of farms, grazing lands, and cities, the Cats have less space to roam and less prey to eat. Cheetahs are also killed by ranchers who fear that the cats are killing their livestock.

Breeding programs, like those at Monarto Zoo and other zoos around the world, offer hope for the future. Animals are carefully matched based on their “pedigree” or genetic background, with the goal of maintaining a high level of genetic diversity in Cheetahs under human care.

 


Cheetah Quintuplets Born at Prague Zoo

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The Czech Republic’s Prague Zoo welcomed a litter of five Cheetah cubs on May 15.

Mother Savannah, age 6, is caring for her quintuplets behind the scenes. The litter includes three male and two female cubs. The family is expected to move into their viewing habitat later this summer.

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19059119_10154393842407581_6141597325846852336_nPhoto Credit: Prague Zoo

Well known as the world’s fastest land animals, Cheetahs are skilled hunters. Their bodies are built for efficient sprinting. Reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, Cheetahs can run down even the fastest of prey. However, they maintain these high speeds for only a minute or two, then give up the chase. Cheetahs are successful in about half of their hunts.

Depending on where they live, Cheetahs target small Gazelles or the young of larger Antelope species when hunting. Prey is taken down with a swat of the dewclaw or a bite to the neck.

Cheetahs are in steep decline in the wild. Found only in Africa and a small part of Iran, fewer than 7,000 wild Cheetahs remain.  As farms and cities expand, Cheetahs’ home ranges are reduced. Due to a genetic bottleneck in the population during the Ice Age, all Cheetahs exhibit genetic similarity. This can lead to reproductive problems and low birth rates, especially when Cheetahs are under human care. Some zoos have found success breeding these Cats by keeping them in large groups, rather than individual pairs.

Currently, Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but conservationists have called for reclassifying Cheetahs as Endangered. Most of the African countries where Cheetahs live have created action plans for protecting these majestic Cats.

 


Cheetah Trio Debuts in Dubbo

Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (17)

Three Cheetah cubs made their public debut last week at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.  Born on October 20, the cubs, one male and two females, have been growing and developing well behind the scenes under the watchful eye of mother, Kyan. 

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Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (13)Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“The cubs are just over five months old now and are thriving. They are all developing quite distinct personalities and growing in confidence every day,” said zoo keeper Jordan Michelmore. 

Keepers have named the three Cheetah cubs.  The male has been named Obi, which means “heart” in Nigerian.  The females have been named Nyasa, which means “water” in Malawi and Zahara, which translates to “flower” in Swahili. 

“It has been a real pleasure watching them grow so far. Obi is very shy whilst Nyasa, the smallest of the trio, is actually the bravest and usually is the first to try new things. Zahara is also quite confident,” said Jordan.  “Kyan is becoming a little more relaxed now that the cubs are getting older. She is still quite protective and always keeps a watchful eye on them.”

Read more info and see additional photos of the cubs below.

Continue reading "Cheetah Trio Debuts in Dubbo" »