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Cheetah Cubs at Zoo Basel

Three tiny cheetah triplets made their debut at Switzerland’s Zoo Basel this week. Mother cheetahs and their cubs communicate with high-pitched barks that sound more like the chirps of a bird. After a big meal, they will relax together and purr. 

Cheetah cubs 1

Cheetah cubs 2

Cheetah cubs zoo basel 3

Incidentally, ZooBorns would have run these adorable little guys yesterday but we were participating in Urlesques’ a Day without Cats, a protest against the current kitty-cuteness-overrun state of the web. But now we’re over it.

Special thanks to ZB reader Britta for the English translation below the fold.

Old female cheetah surprises with 3 babies

It can be called a sensation, that the old cheetah Msichana (10) at Zoo Basel got pregnant again, shortly after her last litter of cubs grew up. She already gave birth to and raised 5 healthy cubs in the year 2007. This time it is a female and 2 male babies, who rump about like silvercoated scooters on the cheetah enclosure near the Etosha-building.

They were born on 17th june inside the breeding-enclosures behind the scenes. Only a few days ago they moved to the Etosha- enclosure and entertain the public.

The father is again the productive tomcat Survivor (8)who came from Vienna. The breeding of cheetahs at the zoo is a rare event, in the wild the species is threatened.

Since beginning of september cheetah mother Msichana (10) with her 2 silvergrey male scooters and the even cheekier female ball of wool can be seen inside the cheetah-exhibit at the Etosha building. A long year of exciting cheetah-baby-fun is guaranteed. Actually it was planned to give Msichana a rest, because the education of her last 5 vivid young sprinters, taking about 18 months, already took a lot of strength from the old mother. But as it i soften the case, the nature plays her own game, not noting the way of men. 

Surprising mating

At the beginning of march the last 2 of 4 male youngsters moved to a zoo in Austria – the female offspring stayed at Basel. After that Msichana was moved to the calm breeding-enclosure away from the zoo, behind the scenes. To great surprise of her caretakers, she began just the next day to offer herself to neighbor Survivor (8). They were let together and they mated. During the following weeks it was not noticed again so they guessed that she was pregnant.

When Msichana did not come to eat her food at the morning of the 17th June, there was a high possibility that she got cubs, that was approved one week later after a short control: 3 strong silvergrey kitten with full round bellies were lying next to her.

Female cheetahs are ambitious

What sounds so easy here, must be seen as a rare happening. Cheetah females are unbounded and very ambitious when choosing a partner. A successful breeding in human care is only happening if the meeting of both genders is lead by competent keepers. Cat and tomcat cannot see each other over weeks and get only short daily opportunities to set scent marks in a mutual enclosure and to smell them. Compareable to the circumstances in the wild that alone is getting the female cat into a heat. During the next 24 hours there can be matings. After that the tomcat and cat avoid each other again. 

Zoos breed the threatened species

The breeding of cheetahs in human care is a rare occassion. Of about 80 keepings of cheetahe with about 300 animals who belong to the EEP (European Conservation program) of the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), only about 12 per year are lucky enough to have success. A high mortality rate of new borns of about 30 % in the first 4 months makes the silvery coated cubs even more precious. In the wild cheetahs are classified as threatened by the red list of the IUCN (World Conservation Union). It is assumed that in whole Africa and few parts of Iran there are only about7500 individuals left.


Opening:     Olivier Pagan, Direktor

Cheetahs:    Jakob Huber, Kurator