On October 12, a cheetah named Rosalie gave birth at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. And audiences from around the world can tune in to watch the five adorable newborn cheetah cubs nurse, stretch and cuddle with their mom.
Over the past week, the cheetah cubs have progressed to become “adorable, fat and happy,” according to the National Zoo. They have opened their ears and eyes and are becoming more mobile each day. Biologists believe they’ll soon start crawling, then walking.
“Seeing Rosalie successfully care for this litter — her first — with confidence is very rewarding,” Adrienne Crosier, cheetah reproductive biologist at SCBI and head of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan, said in a statement. “Being able to witness the first moments of a cheetah’s life is incredibly special. As webcam viewers watch our cheetah family grow, play and explore their surroundings, we hope the experience brings them joy and helps them feel a deeper connection to this vulnerable species.”
For the moment, animal care staff at the institute are leaving Rosalie alone with her cubs to bond. When she is comfortable being away from the cubs for an extended period of time, staff will perform a health check on them, including determining the cubs’ sexes.
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The Cheetah Cam might be the closest we all can get to seeing these cubs. They’re unlikely to ever join the enclosures at the National Zoo because they are a part of a breeding program at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (which is a part of the international Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition).
There are only about 7,000 to 7,500 cheetahs left in the wild (mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa). Their numbers have dwindled due to human conflict, poaching, and habitat loss. Cheetahs are considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
To watch the cheetahs live, visit the Smithsonian webpage.