Cheetah

Cheetah Siblings Get Extra Care in San Diego

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Visitors hoping to glimpse three Cheetah cubs at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park weren’t disappointed when the trio debuted on February 22.  The three siblings – one male and two females – watched the people, explored their surroundings, played with each other and, typical of any infant, after one of their five daily feedings, settled in for a long nap.

The 7-week-old Cheetahs were born January 6 at San Diego Zoo Global’s off-site Cheetah Breeding Center to an inexperienced mom named Malana. In an effort to care for her cubs, Malana inadvertently caused minor injuries to them. After being with their mother for five weeks, the cubs were taken to the Animal Care Center to be monitored for medical issues. Keepers will keep close watch over them, feeding them a special diet of soft carnivore food and formula, and weighing them to monitor their health. After they turn 12 weeks old and receive their three-month immunization, they will be returned to their home at the Cheetah Breeding Center.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn

The Cheetah siblings don’t have names yet, but keepers call them “Purple,” “Yellow,” and “Blue” because of the colors of temporary ID markings placed on their tails. Purple is the smallest of the two sisters, and keepers describe her as feisty and very playful—and she has a big appetite. Yellow is also very playful and loves cuddling with her siblings; and Blue, the only male, loves to play and take extra-long naps.

Cheetahs are native to Africa and a small part of Iran. They are classified as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. It is estimated that the worldwide population of Cheetahs has dropped from 100,000 in 1900 to just 7,000 today, with about 10 percent living in zoos or wildlife parks.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities that are part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (CBCC). The goal of the coalition is to create a sustainable Cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding Cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 160 cubs born to date.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. Their work includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.

 


Litter of Eight Cheetahs Born at Saint Louis Zoo

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For the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a Cheetah has given birth to eight cubs. Three males and five females were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017.

In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female Cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.

The first few months of life are critical for newborn Cheetahs. The Saint Louis Zoo’s animal care staff is closely monitoring the new family and it appears that all eight cubs are healthy. Four-year-old Bingwa (BING-wah), which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the Cheetah care team.

“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs: grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.

5_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_web

12_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web

6_Cheetah cubs 3 weeks old 12-19-17_credit Carolyn Kelly Saint Louis Zoo_webPhoto Credits: Carolyn Kelly & Saint Louis Zoo (Images 1,2,4) / Saint Louis Zoo (Images 3,5)

Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cub’s nine-year-old father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.

“We’ve brought together Cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”

Since 1974, the Zoo has been a leader in Cheetah reproductive research and breeding. Over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo’s Cheetah Breeding Center.

Historically, Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Today, fewer than 10,000 individuals inhabit a broad section of Africa, and less than 100 remain in Iran. Over the past 50 years, Cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries. The main causes of decline are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition and lack of genetic diversity.

To help protect Cheetahs in the wild, the Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation of Carnivores in Africa is working with its partners in Tanzania and Namibia to coordinate cheetah conservation efforts, including education, research and other programs to mitigate human-cheetah conflicts.

“Cheetahs are frequently persecuted for killing livestock. Our conservation partners are finding ways to improve the lives of local herders by providing education opportunities, food and medical supplies, so they can live peacefully with Cheetahs and support their protection,” says Bircher.

According to staff, the Zoo’s mother and eight cubs are doing well and will remain in their private, indoor maternity den behind the scenes at River’s Edge for the next several months.

10_Cheetah cubs 2 weeks old 12-12-17_credit Saint Louis Zoo_web


Cheetah Cub Arrives at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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A six-week-old female Cheetah cub arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, on November 13, from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas.

Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The species has suffered a substantial decline in its range due to hunting, and several African countries have taken steps to improve Cheetah conservation. By late 2016, the population had fallen to approximately 7,100 individuals in the wild due to habitat loss, poaching, illegal pet trade, and conflict with humans. Some researchers suggest that the animal could soon be reclassified as "Endangered" on the IUCN Red List.

In light of the challenges facing the future survival of the Cheetah, animal care staff in charge of the new little cub made the decision to hand-rear. After birth, the little female was very small compared to her four brothers and one sister. She could not successfully compete with her litter-mates at nursing time and was not gaining weight. Since bottle feedings began, she is now thriving and gaining weight consistently.

Cheetah_003_Med-860x450Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Animal care staff now reports that the cub has a “sweet personality” and is very vocal. According to them, she seeks interaction and attention from her keepers. Although she is still formula-fed, it is now being mixed with meat. The growing cub is eating four times a day and weighs just over four pounds.

Visitors to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see the curious cub daily in the nursery at the park’s Ione and Paul Harter Animal Care Center. She will remain at the Safari Park for about three months, and then will move to the San Diego Zoo, to become an ‘animal ambassador’.


Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo

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After spending months tucked away with their mother, two Cheetah cubs born at Basel Zoo can now be seen by zoo visitors. The cubs have been named Opuwo and Onysha.

Born on July 18 to first-time mother Novi and father Gazembe, the cubs’ birth is the result of careful planning and strategy by the zoo staff. 

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Geparden_mit_jungtieren_ZOB7306Photo Credit:  Basel Zoo

Cheetahs are solitary animals and will only tolerate having a partner nearby during mating season. To encourage breeding, male and female Cheetahs take turns living several enclosures behind the scenes. This allows each Cat to become familiar with a potential mate’s scent, which may encourage breeding.

If a female Cheetah shows interest in a male Cheetah, the zoo keeper must place them together immediately and hope that sparks fly. So far, this strategy has been successful for Basel Zoo with a total of 29 Cheetah cubs born there to date. The first Cheetahs arrived at Basel Zoo in 1936, but the first successful breeding occurred in 1993. Breeding Cheetahs remains a challenge for zoos. Of the more than 100 zoos holding Cheetahs in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme), only around ten zoos had cubs this year.

It is typical for wild Cheetah mothers to move their newborns to new hiding places, so the family’s move to the zoo’s outdoor habitat on October 6 aligns with this instinct. 

Cheetahs are classed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. According to an estimate by the IUCN, there were only 7,500 Cheetahs in all of Africa in 2008. This number is now thought to have dropped to 5,000.

See more photos of the Cheetah cubs below.

Continue reading "Cheetah Cubs Born at Basel Zoo" »


Update: Cheetah Quints Growing Up at Prague Zoo

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Five Cheetah cubs born May 15 at Prague Zoo are growing up fast!  We introduced you to these fluffy quintuplets on ZooBorns back in June and the cubs are now thriving under the care of their six-year-old mother, Savannah.

The cubs are still behind the scenes at the zoo, but should move into their exhibit yard later this summer.

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20294273_1423188637765062_9021034933225721409_n (1)Photo Credit: Prague Zoo

Cheetah cubs remain with their mother for one to one-and-a-half years, and they are weaned at three to six months. The cubs spend a lot of time napping and playing. Play helps the cubs develop agility, as well as hone their chase and attack behaviors.  

Every cub born under human care is important to the future of Cheetahs as a species. They are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Fewer than 7,000 Cheetahs remain in eastern and southern Africa. Threats include conflict with humans, shrinking wild areas as farms and cities expand, and illegal trafficking in body parts. 

As a population, Cheetahs have very low genetic diversity, a possible cause of their low reproductive rates. Current conservation measures include cooperative programs across all countries in which wild Cheetahs are found.

 


Five Cheetah Cubs Fluff It Up at Monarto Zoo

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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.”

19437405_1486272208098970_8089627607465356222_nPhoto Credit:  Adrian Mann (1); Monarto Zoo (2)

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.

 


Cheetah Quintuplets Born at Prague Zoo

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The Czech Republic’s Prague Zoo welcomed a litter of five Cheetah cubs on May 15.

Mother Savannah, age 6, is caring for her quintuplets behind the scenes. The litter includes three male and two female cubs. The family is expected to move into their viewing habitat later this summer.

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19059119_10154393842407581_6141597325846852336_nPhoto Credit: Prague Zoo

Well known as the world’s fastest land animals, Cheetahs are skilled hunters. Their bodies are built for efficient sprinting. Reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, Cheetahs can run down even the fastest of prey. However, they maintain these high speeds for only a minute or two, then give up the chase. Cheetahs are successful in about half of their hunts.

Depending on where they live, Cheetahs target small Gazelles or the young of larger Antelope species when hunting. Prey is taken down with a swat of the dewclaw or a bite to the neck.

Cheetahs are in steep decline in the wild. Found only in Africa and a small part of Iran, fewer than 7,000 wild Cheetahs remain.  As farms and cities expand, Cheetahs’ home ranges are reduced. Due to a genetic bottleneck in the population during the Ice Age, all Cheetahs exhibit genetic similarity. This can lead to reproductive problems and low birth rates, especially when Cheetahs are under human care. Some zoos have found success breeding these Cats by keeping them in large groups, rather than individual pairs.

Currently, Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but conservationists have called for reclassifying Cheetahs as Endangered. Most of the African countries where Cheetahs live have created action plans for protecting these majestic Cats.

 


Cheetah Trio Debuts in Dubbo

Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (17)

Three Cheetah cubs made their public debut last week at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.  Born on October 20, the cubs, one male and two females, have been growing and developing well behind the scenes under the watchful eye of mother, Kyan. 

Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (9)
Cheetah cubs on exhibit April 2017 SM (13)Photo Credit: Taronga Western Plains Zoo

“The cubs are just over five months old now and are thriving. They are all developing quite distinct personalities and growing in confidence every day,” said zoo keeper Jordan Michelmore. 

Keepers have named the three Cheetah cubs.  The male has been named Obi, which means “heart” in Nigerian.  The females have been named Nyasa, which means “water” in Malawi and Zahara, which translates to “flower” in Swahili. 

“It has been a real pleasure watching them grow so far. Obi is very shy whilst Nyasa, the smallest of the trio, is actually the bravest and usually is the first to try new things. Zahara is also quite confident,” said Jordan.  “Kyan is becoming a little more relaxed now that the cubs are getting older. She is still quite protective and always keeps a watchful eye on them.”

Read more info and see additional photos of the cubs below.

Continue reading "Cheetah Trio Debuts in Dubbo" »


Twelve Cheetahs Born at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

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The arrival of spring brought a cheetah cub boom to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, where two large litters were born over the course of a single week. Three-year-old Happy gave birth to five healthy cubs on March 23. Seven-year-old Miti gave birth to seven cubs March 28.  Two of Miti’s cubs were visibly smaller and less active at the time of birth and died, which is common in litters this large. Both mothers are reportedly doing well and proving to be attentive to the 10 surviving healthy cubs, which have all been successfully nursing. Each litter includes two male and three female cubs.

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Photo Credit: Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

“The average litter size is three, so this time we’ve got an incredible pile of cubs,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist and manager of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), which matches cheetahs across the population for breeding. “In just one week, we increased the number of cheetahs at SCBI by 50 percent. Each and every cub plays a significant role in improving the health of the population of cheetahs in human care and represents hope for the species overall.”

Both Miti and Happy bred in December and were matched with male cats that fit their temperaments and would help ensure genetic diversity within the population. Miti was matched with 6-year-old Nick, who is a first-time father and was the very first cub born at SCBI in 2010. This is Miti’s third litter, though she lost one litter in 2015 due to health complications. Happy bred with 10-year-old Alberto. While this is Happy’s first litter, it is Alberto’s fifth.

The two litters are also significant because they mark the second generation of cheetahs born at SCBI, extending the branches of the breeding facility’s cheetah family tree and making grandparents of two older cheetahs that were recently retired together, Amani and Barafu. These will likely be the last litters for both Alberto and Miti, who are now genetically well represented in the population. Forty-six cubs have been born at SCBI since the facility started breeding cheetahs in 2010.

Read more about the breeding program below.

Continue reading "Twelve Cheetahs Born at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute" »


Five Fabulous Felines Born at Monarto Zoo

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Five incredibly cute and feisty felines have joined the Monarto Zoo family, with the birth of a healthy litter of Cheetah cubs to first-time mum Kesho. Born on March 24, the cubs are an exciting addition to the zoo family as they are the first litter to be born at Monarto Zoo since 2012.

Carnivore keeper Michelle Lloyd said four-year-old Kesho was a doting mum and the cubs were doing very well under her attentive care. “Everyone’s thrilled to welcome the new arrivals to our Cheetah coalition; it’s really exciting to see Kesho as a first-time mum,” Michelle said.

“She is doing a fantastic job caring for her young and tending to their every need. For the time being, we’re giving the family complete privacy and monitoring the cubs’ development via a security camera in the den.”

The litter is an important addition to the regional Cheetah population and the Zoo’s work as a conservation charity, with the cubs having the power to educate Australians about the plight of Cheetah in the wild.

2_Cheetah Kesho and cubs -screen grabPhoto Credits: Monarto Zoo (Image 3: Mum Kesho in foreground / Image 4: Dad Innis)

The world’s fastest animal, the Cheetah is also Africa’s most endangered big cat with just 6,700 estimated to be remaining in the wild of eastern and southwestern Africa.

“It’s devastating to think that in the last 35 years, we’ve lost almost half of the wild Cheetah population,” Michelle said. “The decline is primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and the killing and capture of Cheetah to protect livestock against predation. This decline makes breeding programs like ours incredibly important to secure the future of this species.”

The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is a large felid of the subfamily Felinae that occurs mainly in eastern and southern Africa and a few parts of Iran.

Uniquely adapted for speed, the Cheetah is capable of reaching speeds greater than 100kph in just over three seconds, and at top speed their stride is seven meters long.

The species is currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Cheetah has suffered a substantial decline in its historic range due to rampant hunting in the 20th century.

The cubs, which have not yet been sexed, will live with mum in a den in an off-limits area of the Zoo until they’re old enough for their public debut in the not too distant future.

Mum, Kesho, was born in the last litter welcomed to Monarto Zoo in 2012. Dad, Innis, arrived at Monarto Zoo last year from National Zoo and Aquarium in Canberra and is on a breeding loan.

3_Cheetah - photo credit Geoff Brooks  Zoos SA

4_Cheetah - Father of cubs  Innis. Photo credit Adrian Mann  Zoos SA