Yesterday, Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Biology Institute celebrated their cheetah cubs’ first birthdays!
On April 8, 2020, female cheetah Echo gave birth to four healthy cubs.
The birth was livestreamed on the Zoo’s website.
Cheetah Biologist Adrienne Croiser said of the past year, “I hope you learned a lot about cheetahs along the way.
Cheetahs face a lot of challenges in the wild, but I think that the more people can connect with and come to understand animals in a personal way, the more they feel inspired to take action and be part of the solution.”
Pippa, a female cheetah at Cango Wildlife Ranch gave birth to 5 purrrrfect cheetah cubs at the end of 2020.
Since the worldwide epidemic has threatened to close Cango Wildlife Ranch, a 35-year-old business, they were honored to receive an early Christmas present after a challenging year.
Cango says the cubs need your support; by sponsoring one of them, you are contributing towards saving an endangered species. Your funds will be used for their feed, vaccinations & maintenance of their enclosure.
Photos and video by: Grahm S. Jones, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
In a groundbreaking scientific breakthrough, two Cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
The births are the result of careful planning and innovative medical expertise through a partnership between the Columbus Zoo, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., and Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas—three leading institutions with a commitment to conservation. These efforts were also part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and the Cheetah Sustainability Program (CSP), developed to manage a sustainable population of cheetahs in human care.
While the cubs’ biological mother is Kibibi, the cubs were delivered on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 at 9:50 p.m. and 10:20 p.m. by Isabelle (Izzy). The cheetahs’ care team observed the births through a remote camera and continue to monitor Izzy and her cubs closely. Izzy, a first-time mom, has been providing great care to her cubs at this time. The care team performed a well check on the cubs on Friday, February 21 and determined that Izzy gave birth to a male cub and a female cub. The cubs have been observed nursing, and the male currently weighs in at 480 grams and the female weighs 350 grams.
“These two cubs may be tiny but they represent a huge accomplishment, with expert biologists and zoologists working together to create this scientific marvel,” said Dr. Randy Junge, the Columbus Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Health. “This achievement expands scientific knowledge of cheetah reproduction, and may become an important part of the species’ population management in the future.”
Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s six Cheetah cubs have been given a clean bill of health from Zoo veterinarians following their recent health check behind the scenes. The cubs were born on June 6 to mother, Kyan, and father, Jana.
The lively cubs currently weigh between 6 – 7 kilograms each. During their health check, keepers were also able to determine the sexes: three females and three males.
“The six cubs are now very active, spending the mornings running around and climbing on logs and rocks in their behind the scenes yard, all under the watchful eye of their mother, Kyan,” said Cheetah Keeper, Jordan Michelmore. “Kyan is being a great mum, she is very protective and likes to be able to see all six cubs at all times, ensuring they don’t stray too far from her side.”
Photo Credits: Rick Stevens/Taronga Western Plains Zoo
The cubs are now rarely observed drinking milk from their mother, preferring to drink water and eat solid foods. Currently they are eating a variety of meats but usually prefer to eat whatever Kyan is eating.
“We have found this large litter to be much more active than our previous litters,” said Jordan. “We think this is because there are so many cubs that there is always some action! Whenever one of the cubs has a rest they are shortly joined by a sibling wanting to wrestle, race or explore.”
The cubs were born to first-time mother, Erin. Staff members report she has been attentive and immediately started caring for the cubs after they were born. The cubs appear to be healthy and doing well. Keepers will perform a health check on the cubs when Erin is comfortable leaving them for an extended period of time. In the meantime, the keepers will continue to monitor the mother and cubs closely through den cameras and visual checks to ensure they are growing and developing normally.
“It is really exciting to have such a large and healthy litter of cubs, especially from first-time parents,” said Adrienne Crosier, cheetah biologist. “Two of these cubs’ grandparents also live at SCBI, so they are the third generation from some of the first Cheetahs to ever live and breed here. That’s really good news for the Cheetah population worldwide. A global self-sustaining cheetah population in human care is becoming even more important with the continued decrease of animal numbers in the wild.”
Photo Credits: Adriana Kopp/Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
The cubs are important to the population of Cheetahs living in zoos because Erin’s genes are not well represented in the population of Cheetahs living in human care in North America. This is also the first litter of cubs sired by the cubs’ father, Rico. It is the 12th Cheetah litter bringing the number of cubs born at SCBI since 2010 to 53. Erin's cubs will likely move to other zoos or facilities accredited by the Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) when they are mature and join the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan.
SCBI scientists are using a new fecal hormone test to determine pregnancy in cheetahs. Fecal samples from Erin will contribute to this research. Cheetah pregnancies last approximately 90 days, and it is difficult to tell if a female is pregnant until 60 days have passed. However, SCBI scientists are developing a non-invasive test to detect levels of IgJ, a protein synthesized by the immune system, in cheetah feces to determine if a female is pregnant in the first 30 days of her pregnancy.
Cheetahs are currently listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. There are only about 7,000 Cheetahs in the wild living in very fragmented habitats. SCBI is building a healthy and genetically diverse population of Cheetahs in human care using natural breeding and assisted reproduction techniques.
SCBI plays a leading role in the Smithsonian’s global efforts to save wildlife species from extinction and train future generations of conservationists. SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, the Smithsonian’s National 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.
An abandoned Cheetah cub is being hand reared by her keeper at Longleat.
The female cub has been nicknamed “Xena”, after the warrior princess, which also marks her battling qualities.
Xena spent her first ten days being cared for by her mum, Wilma. However, keepers discovered the tiny cub was cold, weak and alone on April 19. Despite numerous unsuccessful attempts to get mother and baby back together, the decision was taken by keepers to remove the cub and rear her by hand.
Photo Credits: Ian Turner (Images 1-4)/ Longleat
Keeper, Matt Cleverley, who has previously experienced hand-rearing a Cheetah while working in Africa, volunteered to look after the tiny cub. Matt’s wife, Kate, also a keeper at Longleat, also took up parenting duties.
The cub needs to be bottle-fed every four hours, day and night, until she is six weeks old. Then, she will start to be weaned on to a meat diet.
“No one is sure why Wilma, who was such a brilliant first-time mum with cubs Winston and Poppy in 2016, should have abandoned Xena,” said Matt.
“We did everything we could to try and get her to re-bond with the baby, but it wasn’t working, and we were faced with an extremely difficult choice of not interfering and letting the cub die or stepping in and attempting to rear her by hand.”
Matt continued, “It’s a huge responsibility, and we’re taking it day-by-day, but she is developing well and has already more than doubled her birth weight. So we’re cautiously optimistic that she will make it.”
“As with human babies, she does require round the clock care and attention, and Kate and myself share the duties between us.”
“It does mean the cub comes home with us at the end of each day, but it’s going to be very much worthwhile if we can help get her to a stage where she can fend for herself,” he added.
This is only the second Cheetah birth at Longleat, following the arrival of cubs Winston and Poppy in 2016.
The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, which means it is likely to become ‘Endangered’, unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.
In 2008, the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500-10,000 adult Cheetahs in Africa, and there are concerns the numbers have decreased significantly since then.
Longleat’s Cheetahs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.
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.
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.
Photo 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.
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.
Photo 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’.
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.
Photo 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.