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.”
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.