Three weeks after their unconventional and rocky entrance into the world, two 3-week-old Cheetahs were transported May 18 to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in good health, thanks to the hard work and swift actions of animal care staff at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The cubs are being hand-raised at the Zoo and will require around-the-clock care until they are ready to make their public debut late this summer.
Photo credits: All photos by Adrienne Crosier, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute apart from 2, 6,7, and 8 by Janice Sveda, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Five-year-old Cheetah and first-time mom Ally gave birth to the first cub, a male, April 23. However, instead of nursing and cleaning the cub, she abandoned him, which is relatively common for first-time mothers under human care. Cheetah keepers moved the cub to the veterinary hospital to be treated for severe hypothermia. When Ally suddenly stopped having contractions hours later, SCBI head vet Dr. Copper Aitken-Palmer anesthetized her to see if she had additional cubs. Aitken-Palmer heard additional heartbeats and performed a radiograph to determine that three cubs remained. She performed a cesarean section, a procedure rarely used on Cheetahs and one that cubs do not often survive. A team of veterinarians, keepers and scientists worked for three hours to resuscitate the three cubs, performing CPR, administrating medications and rubbing the cubs to dry and warm them. One of the three cubs, a female, did survive.
Read more about the cubs and see all their first photos below the fold...