Smithsonian National Zoo

Cheetah Cub Quintuplet gets its First Check-up

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Five Cheetah cubs were born on May 28, 2011, to six-year-old Amani at the National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Amani gave birth to a single male cub in December 2010. The cubs got their first exam with our veterinarians on July 12. The cubs, now seven weeks old, are healthy and thriving, and they're growing quickly. They now each weigh between four and five pounds. The veterinary team performed full physical examinations to make sure none of the cubs had any abnormalities. They were given their first vaccinations to protect against respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses, both of which commonly affect Cheetahs.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian National Zoological Park

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Five Cheetah Cubs!

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Five cheetah cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia on May 28, 2011. Recently the animal care staff had a few brief moments to weigh and inspect the animals. The results: the cubs appear to be healthy, doing well and are very active. On average, the cubs weighed about 2 pounds (less than 1k). Keepers will continue to monitor the newborns, while giving the mother, 6-year-old Amani, privacy to bond with her offspring. 

“When I was weighing the last cub, he was being a very tough little guy,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist. “We’re already starting to see differences in their dispositions and look forward to watching them grow and learning all we can from them.”

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Photo Credit: Adrienne Crosier, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Cheetahs, the fastest animals on land, are struggling to outpace threats to their survival in the wild. Because of human conflict, hunting and habitat loss, there are only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers cheetahs a vulnerable species. You can read updates on the Smithsonian National Zoo's website.

Video of the cubs after the jump!

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Clouded Leopard Twins for National Zoo!

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A female Clouded Leopard at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, gave birth to a litter of two cubs Monday, March 28. Staff had been on a pregnancy watch of the two-year-old Sita for one day. Sita gave birth to the first cub at 1:15 p.m. and the second cub at 1:25 p.m. The male cub weighed 9.48 ounces and the female cub weighed 7.76 ounces. This is the first litter for Sita, who came from the Nashville Zoo, and the father, two-year-old Ta Moon. The cubs are being hand-reared by SCBI staff.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

The cubs’ births are significant as they represent a second generation of genetically valuable clouded leopards at SCBI. Ta Moon’s birth in March 2009 marked the first time clouded leopard cubs were born at SCBI after 16 years. The breeding of clouded leopards has been a challenge, primarily because of male aggression. These new cubs are the direct result of SCBI’s scientific breakthrough in animal care science to introduce males to their mates when they are six months old. This allows the pair to grow up together and reduce the risk of agressive attacks.

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Rare Crane Chick "Wattles" Onto the Scene

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On the heels of spring’s arrival, a Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus) chick hatched at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo March 20, the third of its kind in the park’s history. National Zoo veterinarians examined the chick and took a blood sample when it was 4 days old, which they will use to determine its sex. Visitors can see the chick and its parents at the Crane Run, part of the Bird House’s outdoor exhibits.

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Cheetah Cubs Receive Clean Bill of Health

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The two Cheetah cubs born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in December received their first vaccinations yesterday. At about 8 weeks and 6 weeks old, both cubs appear to be healthy, Zoo veterinarians said after completing the cubs’ health exam. “We were encouraged by the exam,” said Dr. Margarita Woc-Colburn, associate veterinarian at the Zoo. “Both cubs were given a clean bill of health and were great patients. We are hopeful that under our care they will continue to remain healthy as they get older.”

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Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian's National Zoo

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National Zoo's Lion Cubs Challenge Dad!

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The National Zoo's Lion pride is getting down to the business of playing rough. Keepers at the Smithsonian Zoo are gradually introducing their seven lion cubs (born to two different lionesses in late August and September) to their outdoor exhibit. When first introduced to to the rest of the pride, Lion cubs typically lack confidence around adults other than their mothers. Eventually, they begin "play" stalking and even challenging other adults within the pride. This activity prepares Lions in the wild for hunting.

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Photo credits: Alex Yates


National Zoo's Anteater Pup Thrives after Rocky Start

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On the evening of December 7, keepers at the Smithsonian National Zoo could see on the internal web cam that Giant Anteater Maripi (who gave birth in March of '09) seemed at long last to be in labor. At about 7:30 she gave birth to her pup, and within half an hour the baby had climbed up on its mother’s back, and all seemed to be proceeding normally. Maripi is an experienced mom, so when she curled up in her crate with the pup a little while later and stayed there, zoo officials all felt that she had the situation in hand. As with most animals Giant Anteaters prefer to give birth in solitude since that equals safety in the wild. Unless they saw that Maripi was in distress or wasn’t caring for the baby, their plan was to leave the two of them alone. They called it a night at 10 p.m. and looked forward to meeting their newest anteater in the morning...

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5334247104_9f4ef0fb9f_oPhoto credits: Mehgan Murphy / Smithsonian's National Zoo

When keepers arrived in the morning, the baby was laying on the floor and cold to the touch! Go below the fold for many more [PHOTOS] and to finish the story of Maripi's pup's birth as told by keeper Marie Magnuson!

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Back to Back Cheetah Cubs - 2 Firsts for Smithsonian

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Many years of research are celebrated in the birth of two cheetah cubs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute—the first Cheetahs born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park facility in Front Royal, Va. The cubs were born to two separate females; the first to 5-year-old Amani Dec. 6, the second to 9-year-old Zazi Dec. 16. Cheetahs that give birth to only one cub, called a singleton, cannot produce enough milk to keep the cub alive. Typically, females in the wild will let a single cub die, after which they will enter estrus and breed again to theoretically produce a larger litter. So scientists at SCBI resorted to an alternative technique. The cub born to Amani, a first-time mother, was hand-raised for 13 days before being placed with Zazi, creating a litter of two that will likely help stimulate milk production from Zazi. Researchers have observed both cubs nursing from Zazi.

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“When we realized that Amani had a singleton, we removed the cub to hand rear it,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist. “So when Zazi gave birth, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to give both cubs a chance at survival as one litter under her care without any additional interference by us. Only a few institutions in North American have ever successfully cross-fostered cheetah cubs and this is a first for SCBI.”

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The Magnificent Seven Receive Seven Names

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The seven Lion cubs born at the National Zoo are now sporting seven names. Just before the cubs made their debut in the Lion yard yesterday morning, the Zoo announced their names: John, Fahari, Zuri, Lelie, Baruti, Aslan and Lusaka. “We were touched to receive so many thoughtful name suggestions for the cubs from so many different sources,” said Dennis Kelly, director of the Zoo. “Each of the seven final names has a special meaning or connection that the cubs will carry with them during their time here at the National Zoo.”

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Lion-Cubs_Smithsonian-Zoo6Photo credits: Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

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Lion Cubs Graduate from Swim School

The National Zoo is preparing to let its newest little lion cubs into the main exhibit area. But before they do, they need to make sure the cubs know how to swim since there is a large water area for the big cats to enjoy. The video below documents the cubs first day at the Zoo YMCA.

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Lion cub swimming smithsonian national zooPhoto credits: Meghan Murphy / Smithsonian National Zoo

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Unlike tigers, which seem to enjoy the occasional dip, lions typically only swim when they have to to cross a small body of water, and don't appear to relish the experience.