Happy belated birthday to the 10 precious baby cheetahs that are now part of the Smithsonian family!
According to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, two large litters were born at SCBI in the last two weeks, as two separate females -- Happy and Miti -- each birthed a litter of five and a litter of seven on March 23 and 28 respectively; unfortunately two of Miti's cubs passed away. The 10 remaining cubs, and both mamas, appear very healthy and happy!
“The average litter size is three, so this time we’ve got an incredible pile of cubs,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist and manager of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan.
Each litter includes two male and three female cubs. Seven-year-old Miti, who has given birth twice before, was bred with six-year-old Nick, who is a first-time father and was the very first cub born at SCBI in 2010. Three-year-old Happy is a first time mama who bred with with 10-year-old Alberto; this is Alberto's fifth litter. Both pairs mated in December, and these will likely be the last cubs born to Miti and Alberto as the are now "genetically well represented in the population." Forty-six cubs have been born at SCBI since the facility started breeding cheetahs in 2010, resulting in Nick's birth.
“One of our big goals across the population right now is to breed more new individual animals, mixing and matching more pairs to diversify the genetics as much as possible,” Crosier said.
A date has not yet been released as to when the cheetah cubs will be moved to the National Zoo, or when they will be on display for visitors to see. Currently, they are being monitored by a team of vets via a closed-circuit camera in the nest boxes.
Oh, and wait, did we mention there is video footage of these precious babes?? You're welcome.