Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Andean Bear Cubs Born at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

After an eight-year hiatus, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) in Washington, D.C., is celebrating the birth of two Andean bears. The cubs were born Nov. 15 to first-time parents, 3-year-old mother Brienne and 9-year-old father Quito. The first cub was born around 4 p.m. and the second around 8:30 p.m. Animal care staff is closely monitoring the mother and cubs via the Andean Bear Cub Cam on the Zoo’s website, allowing Brienne to care for her offspring without interference. Virtual visitors can also observe the Andean bear family on this temporary platform until the cubs leave the den.

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Cheetah Cubs Are Born At Smithsonian’s National Zoo And Conservation Biology Institute

Carnivore keepers at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, welcomed a litter of two cheetah cubs. First-time mother, 4-year-old female Amani, birthed the cubs Oct. 3 around 9:17 p.m. and 11:05 p.m. ET. This is also the first litter sired by 7-year-old father Asante. As the first offspring of both parents, the cubs are genetically valuable. They appear to be strong, active, vocalizing and nursing well. Animal care staff are closely monitoring Amani and her cubs’ behaviors via the Cheetah Cub Cam on the Zoo’s website. Virtual visitors can also observe Amani and her cubs on this temporary platform until the cubs leave the dens.

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Two Critically Endangered Blue-Billed Curassows Hatch at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

For the first time, Bird House keepers at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., are celebrating the hatching of two critically endangered blue-billed curassows. The two female chicks are being cared for off-exhibit. The first chick, named Aluna, hatched Aug. 5. Her sister Lulo hatched Aug. 28. Aluna is the first offspring for 6-year-old mother, Jackie; the 16-year-old father, JB, previously sired chicks at another institution. Keepers report that the sisters are thriving and describe them as confident and curious.

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Two Critically Endangered Blue-Billed Curassows Hatch at Smithsonian’s National Zoo

For the first time, Bird House keepers at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute are celebrating the hatching of two critically endangered blue-billed curassows. The two female chicks are being cared for off-exhibit. The first chick, named Aluna, hatched Aug. 5. Her sister Lulo hatched Aug. 28. Aluna is the first offspring for 6-year-old mother, Jackie; the 16-year-old father, JB, previously sired chicks at another institution. Keepers report that the sisters are thriving and describe them as confident and curious.

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Supporting Animal Ambassadors Like Sherman, The Screaming Hairy Armadillo

Sherman, The Smithsonian National Zoo’s screaming hairy armadillo, goes *wild* for enrichment toys! Magical moments like these happen here every day, inspiring awe and “aww.” Donate today, and your gift will be matched up to $20,000—that’s twice the support to care for National Zoo’s amazing animal ambassadors, like Sherman. ❤️🎁 GIVE A GIFT TO THE ANIMALS: https://s.si.edu/3kVqKSJ.
. . .
#GivingTuesday
#WeSaveSpecies
#GivingZooDay

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Foster Cheetah Cub Finds A Caring New Family

A 2-week-old male cheetah cub from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, was transferred to a new cheetah foster mother at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon, Sunday, Oct. 3. SCBI staff were hand-raising the cub, born Sept. 16, who had been abandoned by his mother. It is important for cheetah cubs to learn species-appropriate behaviors and skills from their mothers and siblings. The SCBI cub was successfully introduced to Wildlife Safari’s cheetah foster mother, Jezebel, and integrated into her litter of four cubs.

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SCBI is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition—a group of 10 cheetah breeding centers across the United States that aim to create and maintain a sustainable North American cheetah population under human care. Wildlife Safari was the next institution in the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition to have cubs. The male cub will remain at Wildlife Safari with his new family until he is at least 2 years old.


Cheetah Cubs Are Back on Cheetah Cam!

Last Thursday, Oct. 21, Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute’s cheetah mom Rosalie picked a new "den" for her cubs. She moved them, one by one, to a large clump of tall grasses in her yard. The area was well-protected, and it is not uncommon for cheetah moms to move dens. Animal care staff monitored Rosalie and the cubs but did not intervene, as Rosalie has been a very attentive mother. Unfortunately, was no webcam in the grass so the Cubs’ adoring fans had stayed tuned for updates!

Why did Rosalie move her cubs? Was she scared or spooked?

It is not known why Rosalie moved her cubs. It’s completely natural for cheetah moms to move their litters. In fact, every single one of the Zoo’s females has moved cubs during the first month of life except for one. The grasses are also a very popular spot for cheetah moms to move their cubs within the first month – five have in recent memory: Amani (2011), Sanurra (2015), Hope (2017), Erin (2018), and Echo (2020).

Weather can also play a factor. This time of the year is hard. It’s warm during the day and moms get very warm inside the dens. But it’s also still chilly to be outside at night. So, it is a hard time of year to be in one place or the other 100% of the time. The warm days could have encouraged Rosalie to move her cubs out. She was observed panting in the den during the day. She had also been in that den for almost two weeks straight! It was likely pretty gross and stinky in there. In the wild, they wouldn’t stay in one place too long because the smell would attract predators.

On Sunday, Oct. 24, cheetah mom Rosalie moved her five cubs back into the den with a webcam.  It took her about 30 minutes total to move all the cubs, as you can see in this video.

Cheetah Cub Cam: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/cheetah-cub-cam


Cheetah Cubs Are Born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Cubs Can Be Viewed on the Live Cheetah Webcam

Oct. 12, 2021

Video Courtesy of Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Carnivore keepers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, welcomed a litter of five cheetah cubs today. Five-year-old female Rosalie birthed the cubs at 5:20 a.m., 8:24 a.m., 9:42 a.m., 10:33 a.m and 11:17 a.m. ET. The family can be viewed via the Cheetah Cub Cam https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams/cheetah-cub-cam. Ten-year-old Nick, who was the first cheetah born at SCBI, sired this litter. Animal care staff will leave Rosalie to bond with and care for her cubs without interference, so it may be some time before they can determine the cubs' sexes. The cubs appear to be strong, active, vocal and eating well. Keepers will perform a health check on the cubs when Rosalie is comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time.

Staff are closely monitoring Rosalie and her cubs’ behaviors via webcam. Virtual visitors can observe Rosalie and her cubs on this temporary platform until the cubs leave the den. Keepers provided Rosalie with access to multiple dens, so it is possible she may move the cubs to an off-camera location.

"Seeing Rosalie successfully care for this litter—her first—with confidence is very rewarding," said Adrienne Crosier, cheetah reproductive biologist at SCBI and head of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Cheetah Species Survival Plan. "Being able to witness the first moments of a cheetah’s life is incredibly special. As webcam viewers watch our cheetah family grow, play and explore their surroundings, we hope the experience brings them joy and helps them feel a deeper connection to this vulnerable species."

SCBI is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition—a group of 10 cheetah breeding centers across the United States that aim to create and maintain a sustainable North American cheetah population under human care. These cubs are a significant addition to the Cheetah SSP, as each individual contributes to this program.

The SSP scientists determine which animals to breed by considering their genetic makeup, health and temperament, among other factors. Rosalie and Nick were paired and bred July 9 and 10. Keepers trained Rosalie to voluntarily participate in ultrasounds, and SCBI veterinarians confirmed her pregnancy Aug. 16. Since 2007, 16 litters of cheetah cubs have been born at SCBI.   

Cheetahs live in small, isolated populations mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of their strongholds are in eastern and southern African parks. Due to human conflict, poaching and habitat and prey-base loss, there are only an estimated 7,000 to 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers cheetahs vulnerable to extinction.

The Zoo’s legacy of conservation work extends beyond the public Zoo in Washington, D.C., to SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia. Scientists at SCBI study and breed more than 20 species, including some that were once extinct in the wild, such as black-footed ferrets and scimitar-horned oryx. Animals thrive in specialized barns and building complexes spread over more than 3,200 acres. The sprawling environment allows for unique studies that contribute to the survival of threatened, difficult-to-breed species with distinct needs, especially those requiring large areas, natural group sizes and minimal public disturbance.

SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Virginia, the Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide. SCBI scientists tackle some of today’s most complex conservation challenges by applying and sharing what they learn about animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability.