Two large litters of cheetah cubs were just born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI).
We're getting the first look at the Smithsonian's new cheetah cubs. Between March 23 and 28, two female Cheetahs at the Institute gave birth to litters of cheetah cubs. There were originally twelve new cubs in all, but unfortunately, two did not make it.
Both litters have five surviving cubs, each with two male and three female cubs.
“The average litter size is three, so this time we’ve got an incredible pile of cubs,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI's cheetah biologist and manager of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan. In recent years, zoologists have seen a genetic bottleneck in cheetah breeding. Because the same cheetahs were mating over and over, their offspring had low genetic diversity that led to health and reproductive issues for the cubs.
In 2013, SCBI joined forces with other organizations to create the Breeding Centers Coalition so organizations could loan species for breeding. Before the program was created, an average of 29 cheetah cubs were born every year in captivity. Today, increased genetic diversity has allowed zoos to average 46 cubs born every year. Researchers are hopeful that these genetic diversification efforts will help other endangered and threatened species breed more successfully in captivity.
Check out the video of the new cubs that the Smithsonian posted on its Facebook page!