Four cheetah cubs born at the St. Louis Zoo

Last Edited: Monday, 20 Nov 2006, 2:49 PM CST

Officials at the St. Louis Zoo report four Cheetah cubs were born at the zoo November 10th.

Their mom, Lucia, is a first time mother, and is taking care of her cubs in her maternity den that’s off display at the Zoo’s cheetah exhibit.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the birth of the cheetah cubs,” says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, president of the St. Louis Zoo. “And we’re really excited that this young cheetah mother is doing a terrific job of rearing them.”

Lucia is three years old, on loan to the St. Louis Zoo from White Oak Conservation Center, a wildlife sanctuary in Florida. The first-time father is Shanto, a five-year-old who was brought to St. Louis from the Wassenaar Breeding Center in The Netherlands four years ago.

After nine days, the cubs are beginning to open their eyes. The two males and two females range in weight from 684 grams to 1027 grams, or around two pounds. All are steadily gaining weight.

Mother and cubs will be off exhibit for several months until the cubs are large enough to navigate their public space and weather is mild. The cheetah is endangered throughout Africa. In the last century, the cheetah population has declined from 100,000 to fewer than 12,000 individuals, and the species has become extinct in at least 13 countries. The pairing of Lucia and Shanto at St. Louis was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for cheetahs. The fact that this pair is not closely related will be vitally important to genetic diversity of cheetahs in the future.

This is the first litter of cheetah cubs to be born at the Zoo since 1992.

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