Say hello to the newest arrivals to the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute — a litter of five cheetah cubs.
Echo, an 8-year-old cheetah, gave birth to six cubs on September 12 at the Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. Five — three males and two females — survived, but a sixth cub did not.
“The cubs appear to be strong, active, vocal, and eating well,” the zoo said in a news release.
Viewers can watch the cubs “eat, play, sleep, and snuggle” on the zoo’s livestreamed Cheetah Cub Cam, though Echo may move her cubs out of the camera’s view at times.
Echo was born in Florida in 2015, and she previously gave birth to a litter of four cubs in 2020.
The cubs’ father is either Asante or Flash, which zoo scientists will determine with genetic testing once the cubs are old enough to have blood drawn.
🐆🥰 Cheetah cuddle party! Meet the newest members of our Zoo family, born 9/12 at our Front Royal, Virginia, campus. Mother Echo is doing an amazing job caring for her cubs—3 boys + 2 girls—and the newborns appear strong, active, vocal and well-fed. 📽️: https://t.co/LJJ65zIB0D. pic.twitter.com/FORWVwd54P— National Zoo (@NationalZoo) September 21, 2023
Genetic testing is also important as the cubs will eventually enter breeding programs.
The zoo is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition, a group of 10 breeding centers that work to maintain a population of cheetahs under human care. The cubs will eventually be added to the Cheetah Species Survival Plan, which selects cheetahs to breed based on their genetic makeup and health.
Cheetahs are considered vulnerable to extinction, the zoo said. There are only 7,000 to 7,500 cheetahs in the wild due to human conflicts, poaching, and habitat loss.
Feature photo courtesy Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute
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