The Smithsonian’s National Zoo released a few photographs today of two rare cheetah cubs that will be raised by hand by zookeepers.
The two cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia on April 23rd. Ally, a five-year-old Cheetah, abandoned her first male cub and the zookeepers were forced to bring it in for treatment after it was diagnosed with severe hypothermia.
Ally, who was pregnant with three more cubs, stopped having contractions and the doctors had to give an emergency cesarean section. They were able to save the mother and one of the cubs, a female.
“Given how rare this procedure is, we thought it’d be unlikely for any of the cubs to survive. But that little female is a fighter. Once we got her breathing, she just kept going. It was a very intense, stressful experience, but among the most inspiring of my career.”
Veterinarian Copper Aitken-Palmer, added:
“You’re always sad that you couldn’t save them all. But I’m thrilled that we have two, and I’m thrilled that the mom is doing well, too.”
The zoo said that both cheetah cubs, and their mother, are doing well, but the cubs now need round the clock care. Barthel said that she’s confident that the cubs will grow up strong and healthy.
“The cubs will continue to need care and we’re not out of the woods yet. The goal is to ensure that the cheetahs thrive and become ambassadors for their species.”
The Associated Press reports that there are only about 8,000 to 12,000 cheetahs left in the wild. According to Aitken-Palmer, that makes every healthy cub more extremely valuable to the species.
“There are now two new genetically valuable cubs in a population that so desperately needs them. So this is really a success for this struggling species.”
The two cheetah cubs will make their public debut later this Summer.