Cincinnati Zoo Cautiously Celebrates Rare C-Section Birth Of Five Cheetah Cubs

The Cincinnati Zoo is cautiously celebrating the rare C-section birth of five cheetah cubs.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the cubs were born on March 8 via a rare Caesarian section procedure and are receiving around-the-clock critical care in the zoo’s nursery, according to zoo officials.

The zoo’s director of animal health says it’s only the third C-section he has been involved with and his first on a cheetah.

According to The Cincinnati Enquirer, three male and two female cubs were born March 8 at the zoo’s cheetah breeding facility, Mast Farm, in Clermont County.

The Cincinnati Zoo is renowned for its big cats, and just over 50 cheetah cubs have been born there since it opened in 2002.

After the cubs’ mother, five-year-old Willow, gave birth, the cubs were whisked away to the zoo’s nursery, where they’ve been bottle fed every three hours.

Mark Campbell, the zoo’s director of animal health, said it was only the third C-section he has been involved in, and the only one on a cheetah, during his 25 years at the Cincinnati Zoo.

On hand for the birth were a surgeon, assistant surgeon, anesthesiologist, veterinary technicians, and five members of the zoo’s animal staff.

Zoo officials decided to proceed with the C-section as Willow came closer to her delivery date and they noticed she was developing some complications, according to Campbell.

“The decision to do the procedure is a complicated and involved discussion amongst the veterinary, curatorial and keeper staff. The procedure went well. Mom is recovering, and we’re working hard to put some weight on the premature cubs.”

“For puppies and kittens, the vast majority of their passive immunity comes from their mom’s milk, especially the colostrum,” he said. “Their immune systems are not developed very well at all at this time so they are unable to actively ward off infections. We are doing all we can to keep them healthy and strong, but it will be a challenge for these cubs moving forward.”

Zoo officials say the cheetahs cubs’ immune systems are not well-developed and are struggling to fight off infections.

So far, the cubs are doing well. In order to survive, they must reach certain benchmarks, including making it through the first week, which they have done. They must now reach the first month mark safe and sound.

While in critical care, Cincinnati Zoo visitors are able to get a peek at the cubs through the nursery windows, but much of the cubs’ care occurs behind closed doors and away from the public’s eye.

This is an important achievement for the breeding facility as cheetahs are endangered. It is estimated that there are only 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs worldwide, down from 100,000 in 1900.

In order to keep the species alive, breeding in captivity is planned and monitored carefully, reports the Enquirer.

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of nine institutions across the country accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to take part in a cheetah Breeding Center Coalition that works with the Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP).

The cubs will stay in the nursery for at least eight to 12 weeks as they become stronger each day.

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)