Birth of cheetahs
Do you remember the video we posted 3 months ago showing our vets performing an abdominal ultrasound on one of our female cheetah? They were able to observe 3 fetuses: https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/531776642
At the end of May, the female gave birth to her second litter as expected. The three cubs (all females), who weighed between 420 and 505 grams at birth, are doing very well.
They’re now a little more than one month-old and are already happily frolicking in their enclosure which is inaccessible to the public yet. The family will be soon moved to another enclosure but visitors will have to wait another fortnight before being able to observe them.
Our vets regularly check the health condition of the cubs. They have been wormed twice and will soon be vaccinated. They are also weighed regularly to make sure that they are gaining enough weight: the cubs now weigh between 1.4 and 1.8kg.
In the wild, female cheetahs do not come into contact with males except when they are sexually receptive. They raise their young alone until they reach the age of 18 months old. Then siblings usually stay together for a few more months, cooperating during hunting after separation with their mother. At the zoo, we mimic the natural ecology of cheetahs by putting the male with the female only when she’s ready to mate. The rest of the time, the breeding males are living in separate enclosures located away from those of the females.
The cheetah is classified as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List and is subject of several conservation programs in the wild. It is indeed threatened by the destruction of its habitat, hunting (resulting from conflicts with shepherds) and competition with lions and hyenas.
Moreover, its low genetic diversity makes it more susceptible to diseases and epidemics.
The total wild population is estimated at around 7,000 adults and independent adolescents. Among the 5 subspecies currently recognized, the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) is the most endangered with less than a hundred individuals restricted to the Iranian territory alone.