Two cheetah cubs born at Smithsonian facility, adorable video follows (video, photos)
- Impossibly cute cheetah cub photo courtesy of the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Two cheetah cubs have come into the world and are thriving, National Zoo officials announced
today Tuesday. The births represent a successful cross-fostering that is a rarity in North American zoos a first for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
When 5-year-old Amani gave birth to a single cub on Dec. 6, researchers knew it was likely she would not be able to nurse it. Female cheetahs in the wild cannot produce enough milk for a single litter and typically abandon the cub. Knowing that another cheetah, 9-year-old Zazi, was expecting, scientists decided to hand-raise the cub for 13 days before placing it with Zazi. After Zazi gave birth to a single cub on Dec. 16, the first cub was added to her litter. Both cubs have been seen successfully nursing.
The dwindling number of cheetah births across American zoos makes these births all the more significant. An aging female cheetah population has presented a challenge to cheetah biologists, who have learned that cheetahs older than eight do not reproduce well. Scientists are now studying whether they can harvest eggs from an older female and transfer them to a younger surrogate.
SCBI is not open to the public, but three cheetahs were recently moved to the flagship zoo for public viewing. In the meantime, our fingers are crossed for more adorable cheetah cub videos.
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