Look! Baby cheetahs! (Photos)

Photo: Mehgan Murphy, National Zoo.

The National Zoo’s two newest cheetah cubs, born in December, are vaccinated and doing just fine, zoo veterinarians say.

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The birth of the cubs was a significant one. Not only have cheetah births been on the decline in American zoos, but the occasion marked the first successful cross-fostering for the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. When the first cub, a male, was born to mother Amani on December 6, scientists knew that Amani would not be able to produce enough milk to keep a single cub alive. Since another cheetah, Zazi, was expecting, researchers took the cub and hand-raised him until he could be placed with Zazi’s litter. Incidentally, Zazi also gave birth to a singleton 10 days later, a female.

Both cubs have thrived under Zazi’s care. Zoo spokesperson Lindsay Renick Mayer says they’ve even begun showing signs of personality. “The male is very playful,” she says. “He’s a little more comfortable with humans because he was hand-reared. The little girl is a little more feisty.” Mayer says the cubs are getting along well and that the female cub “is definitely holding her own with him.”

No names for these adorable critters yet, though Mayer says that a decision on whether or not it will be a public naming is forthcoming.

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