The cub will be transferred to another zoo within the next few weeks.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) has confirmed a cheetah cub is being hand-reared after its birth last week. The male cub, born on September 16 to mom Sukiri, was the only one to survive the litter with two additional cubs either stillborn or perished minutes after the birth. Their plan is to nurse the cub for the next few weeks before transferring him to a new zoo, where he'll be cared for by a foster cheetah mom.
Sukiri's pregnancy was revealed back in July following an ultrasound. The month prior she had been coupled with male cheetah Scott for mating purposes.
According to keepers, lone cubs are neglected in the wild by their mother who is primed to only produce enough milk to feed a full litter. Due to the evolutionary nature of the species, this made the zoo's intervention a matter of survival. A press release states Sukiri had begun neglecting the cub only a day after the birth. Since then, staff members are feeding the cub formula every 2 to 3-1/2 hours at the Institute's veterinarian hospital.
“We are always prepared to intervene when necessary,” SCBI's cheetah reproductive biologist Adrienne Crosier said in a statement.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature marks the cheetah as "vulnerable" due to factors like habitat destruction and poaching. In their native habitats of sub-Saharan Africa, under 7,500 are believed to exist in the wild. The SCBI is among 10 other centers around the country involved in the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition, which focuses on sustaining proper care for the animals in human captivity.
Despite the circumstances, the cub appears to be doing well–keepers describe him as "strong" and "vocal" with a healthy appetite. The cheetah cub cam is turned off for the time being, but Crosier remains optimistic that more babies will continue to be born at the Institute.
“We hope to have more cheetah cubs born at SCBI in the near future, but the timing is not ideal for the cub to stay here," Crosier said.
Wishing Sukiri and the baby cub all the best!
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