As a Thanksgiving treat, here's a sneak peek at the newest little Cheetahs at Burgers' Zoo in the Netherlands!
For the next few months they will stay behind the scenes so that mom can raise her cubs undisturbed. Once they're old enough they will have a veterinary checkup to get vaccinated and to determine their sexes.
Cheetahs are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened species. Current estimates place the wild Cheetah population at around 7,500 individuals. We're thankful for zoos that aid wildlife conservation through cooperative captive breeding programs, research, and by reaching out to engage and educate the public.
Last Monday my ZooBorns' co-founder, Chris Eastland, and I (Andrew Bleiman) made a very special trip to Dallas Zoo to meet their twin Cheetah cubs, Kamau and Winspear. We also met their canine companion, a black Lab puppy named, Amani.
It's extraordinarily rare that we get to interact, let alone romp, with real-live zoo-borns. However these special cubs are being raised as education animals so socialization with humans, even goofy ZooBorns guys, is part of their regular day. Their puppy friend, Amani, is a calming influence who will also help with these efforts.
The feline duo put on quite a display. Stalking and pouncing on us / one another / furniture and just about anything else worth clawing at occupied most of the morning. The cubs made a variety of noises, from bird-like chirps, to gutteral growls, to purrs that would remind you of your house cat, just a lot louder.
With wild Cheetah populations hovering somewhere around 10,000, the species is considered vulnerable to extinction. Cheetahs thrive in vast expanses of land. Human encroachment and habitat destruction are central threats to this iconic species.
Institutions like Dallas Zoo serve an invaluable role in building empathy and awareness for wildlife conservation. We here at ZooBorns are proud to help spread the word about these efforts and consider ourselves incredibly priviliged to meet Dallas' newest Cheetah ambassadors.
Special thanks to the Dallas Zoo staff that made our visit possible. Pictured left to right: Chris Eastland (ZooBorns), Candice Davis, Chris Johnson, Robin Ryan, and Andrew Bleiman (ZooBorns). Not pictured: Laurie Holloway
Dallas Zoo recently welcomed two new adorable ambassadors: Cheetah cubs Winspear and Kamau. The 8-week-old male cubs were born July 8 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. A team of Dallas Zoo experts spent nearly two weeks in Virginia before flying back to Dallas with the cubs. Winspear, the larger of the two, now weighs more than 8 pounds, while Kamau is over 6 pounds.
The cubs also have a new companion who’ll be raised alongside them: an 8-week-old Black Labrador puppy named Amani. Zoological experts have found that because dogs are naturally comfortable in public settings, Amani will provide a calming influence for the cubs, as well as another playmate as they grow to adulthood. Amani means 'peace' in the Swahili language of East Africa, where cheetahs still exist in the wild. The cats are endangered, however, with their numbers estimated to have fallen to about 10,000.
Photo credits: Dallas Zoo
Watch a video of the playful cubs:
“It is a thrill to be able to tell the story about cheetah conservation and to educate Dallas Zoo guests about this magnificent species,” says Sean Green, vice president of guest experiences for the Dallas Zoo. “Winspear and Kamau will become important animal ambassadors for the Dallas Zoo, building appreciation and awareness about cheetahs to more than 900,000 visitors each year.”The cubs are smoke-colored, with black spots and unique “tear stripes” below their eyes already evident. As they grow, they will acquire the golden color of adult cheetahs. When full grown, the cheetahs will stand about 3 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 140 pounds.The cubs will not reside with the Zoo’s two adult brother-and-sister cheetahs, Bonde and Kilima, in the Giants of the Savanna cheetah habitat. Instead, guests soon will have the opportunity to meet them in person at the Wild Encounters stage. In addition, the cubs occasionally will travel to select outreach events outside the zoo. Only 15 zoos in North America incorporate cheetahs into their outreach programs.
Says Greene, “Our African-themed exhibits, such as the Giants of the Savanna, are some of the most popular areas of the Dallas Zoo. These magnificent animals will help us tell the story about these habitats and the conservation work we support.”
Two energetic Northern Cheetah cubs turned 2 months recently at Chester Zoo in England. The pair, born June 4, are a male and a female.
The zoo says that the two cubs are starting to develop their own personalities, as they climb tree stumps and bounce after one another. Team Manager of Carnivores, Dave Hall, said:
“They’re very, very playful and a real handful for mum. But she’s exceptionally good with them and doing a great job of bringing them up.”
Their mother and father, KT and Matrah, are both 6-year old Northern Cheetahs born in 2007. The pair is KT's second litter, her first being born in June 2011.
Northern Cheetahs are Endangered in their native Northwest African habitat, largely due to competition with larger predators, farmers, and habitat destruction.
The wild population has decreased sharply by 90% within the last 100 years, and many fear that there are as few as 250 individuals remaining. The
birth of the two cubs therefore is not only a success for the Chester Zoo, but also for the International Endangered Species Breeding Program.
The Chester Zoo is a champion for Cheetahs, combining research and support for local organizations in Africa. The Zoo supports the N/a’an ku sê Carnivore Research Project based in Namibia, where the dwindling Cheetah population is monitored and tagged. Chester Zoo also helped to develop a technique to identify Cheetahs in the wild
from their paw prints, which allows for a non-intrusive way of identifying and building a data bank of these wild cats.
A trio of Cheetah cubs was born on June 28 at Zoo Salzburg in Austria. The trio, which consists of two males and one female, were born to mother Ginger.
Ginger is taking great care of her cubs, who have grown considerably since their birth. Born at 250 grams each (about 1/2 pound), the males now weigh 1,200 grams each (2.65 pounds)
and the female weighs 900 grams (just under 2 pounds).
Cheetahs have a short gestation period of about 90-95 days. Young Cheetah cubs have a greyish coat and lack the distinctive spot markings of their species. Cheetahs are currently listed as Vulnerable to Extinction,
with under 12,500 individuals remaining in the African wild. Native to Africa and southwestern Asia, a small population of the species also exists in Iran. Adult females are solitary, while males live in social groups. Females are very selective in choosing mates, and their social and breeding behaviors tend to make breeding within zoos a challenge.
Namoja, Munster Zoo's female Cheetah, has her paws full with five cubs. Now nearly two months old, Namoja's quintet has been exploring Munster's outdoor exhibit since day nine. Father Jabari met Namoja in early January and the five cubs arrived just 92 days later! While First-time mom Namoja has shown excellent cub-rearing skills and a steady paw, she'll have to remain vigilant. The cubs are already adept crawlers and it won't be long before they're scampering around the entire 7,500 sq. ft. exhibit!
On October 8, Monarto Zoo's Cheetah Nakula gave birth to five cubs - two males and three females, all healthy. The babies were allowed to bond with mom in the den, where they could only be seen via a closed circuit TV camera. Nakula proved to be a very good mother; the cubs developed well and grew big enough to venture outdoors - though it was still in an area that was off-limits to visitors (as seen on the video below).
On January 15, when the cubs were about 14 weeks old, they spent their first day in the zoo's habitat, where guests could finally enjoy seeing the spectacle of Nakula and her five furry cubs running in the high grasses. Carnivore Keeper, Michelle Lloyd said, "It's been nine years since we last had a Cheetah litter at Monarto and, amazingly, Nakula was one of the cubs born in the last litter all those years ago. It's a lot of fun to watch the cubs running around on exhibit; they're very energetic and definitely love the space. Nakula has a big job keeping up with them all but she's doing great."
Monarto Zoo Curator Beth Pohl said the litter is an important addition to the regional population, with the cubs serving to educate Australians about the plight of the Cheetah in the wild. “In the last 35 years we’ve lost almost half of the wild Cheetah population," Beth added. "Currently there’s approximately 12,000 Cheetah left -- however, in the mid 1970's, the population was estimated to be almost double that." The decline is primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and the killing and capture of Cheetah to protect livestock against predation.
Photo Credit: David Mattner for Monarto Zoo
Watch the cubs play with each other and their rather patient mother below.
Read more about the unusual circumstances of these cubs birth, and see more pictures and video, after the fold:
Three Cheetah cubs born at White Oak on November 26 are
growing rapidly and thriving under the care of their mother, Sweeney. Zooborns shared photos of the Cheetah cub
trio when they were just one
week old. The five-week-old cubs are
now eagerly exploring their outdoor habitat, though they rarely stray far from
mom, who serves as a climb-on toy, shady rest stop, and all-around
Sweeney is a first-time
mother who is expertly caring for her babies.
White Oak staff conducted a health check on the cubs, but they are
allowing Sweeney to raise the cubs just as she would in the wild.
Cheetahs in the wild are in
drastic decline. These stunning
predators, capable of running at speeds up to 75 mph (120 km/h), are unable to
outrun the threats to their survival.
Low genetic diversity in both the wild and captive populations
contributes to the challenges facing this species. About 12,500 Cheetahs remain in the wilds of eastern
and southern Africa.
White Oak works
collaboratively with the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos
& Aquariums (AZA) as well as the Conservation Center for Species Survival
(C2S2). White Oak is one of the most successful Cheetah breeding centers in the
world. These cubs are the 145th,
146th, and 147th Cheetah cubs born at White Oak.
On November 26 a cheetah
female at White Oak, a 7,400 acre Florida conservation center, gave birth to three healthy cubs.
The cubs, a female and two males, are being cared for by their mother, Sweeney,
a four-year-old cheetah who was also born at White Oak.
Sweeney had not gained much
weight during her pregnancy, so keepers were surprised when she delivered three
cubs. Despite being a first-time mother,
Sweeney is expertly nurturing her three babies.
For a first- hand account of the cubs’ birth, check out White Oak’s
White Oak is one of the most
successful cheetah breeding centers in the world, and these cubs mark the
facility’s 145th, 146th, and 147th cheetah
“Breeding cheetahs is very challenging and
with only a small portion of the population reproducing, and it’s very exciting
when we have cubs from a first time dam or sire, as this helps keep the
population genetically healthy,” says White Oak cheetah expert Karen Meeks. “I’m
very happy to see a first time mother so relaxed and content caring for her
The three new cheetah cubs
will stay with their mother until they are about one year old. The cubs will then be separated for placement
in zoos and breeding centers, mimicking the natural dispersal process of cubs
leaving their mother at that age.
White Oak works with the Cheetah
Species Survival Plan (SSP) and partners at the Conservation Center for Species
Survival (C2S2) to sustain a healthy captive cheetah population.
The C2S2 consortium is
comprised of five organizations, including White Oak, that collectively manage
more than 25,000 acres devoted to endangered species study, management and
recovery. Together the C2S2 partners
house over 80 cheetahs and account for a majority of the cubs born in North America each year.
Historically, the cheetah has low reproductive success in captivity, but
the space, facilities, and expertise at White Oak and its C2S2 partners have
resulted in increased success.
White Oak conserves and
sustains some of the earth’s rarest wild animals through innovative
training, research, education, and breeding programs that contribute to
the survival of wildlife in nature. The
7,400 acre facility is home to imperiled species from around the world
including rhinos, cheetahs, and the elusive okapi.
On September 22, something exciting happened: three female cheetah cubs were born at La Palmyre Zoo
in France. Mom Nandi's gestation lasted 91 days. At birth, the cubs weighed between .95 and 1.05 pounds (435-480 grams). Now, at 3 weeks old, they weigh almost 4.5 pounds (2 kilos). Watch them being weighed on the video below. The cubs have also opened their eyes - the first after 8 days, the last on day 12.
This is the third litter for 8-year-old mother Nandi, and these births are very good news for the European captive breeding program of cheetahs. The species is listed as "vulnerable" on the UICN
Red List. It is threatened by habitat destruction, conflicts with humans (and
thus hunting), competition with other large predators, like lions and hyenas, and due to the lack of genetic diversity within the species.
The cubs father, Roucky, is 3.5 years old and was transferred to La Palmyre last spring from the Wadi Al Safa Wildlife Centre in UAE.
Photo credit: F. Perroux/La Palmyre ZooL
2012 is also the 20th anniversary of the first cheetah birth at La Palmyre Zoo. Between 1992 and 2012, the zoo has registered more than 70 cheetah births. This success rewards the efforts of Zoo Palmyre vet Thierry Petit, who implemented a specific protocol consisting in separating females from males on a regular basis in order to stimulate heats and matings.