July 25, 2012
The National Zoo’s baby cheetah cubs are growing up so fast. Don’t worry though; at three months old, their level of cuteness has not diminished with age.
“They are growing very big and they are playful, running around the yard and getting used to everything,” says Lacey Braun, the head of the cheetah care team. “It’s really good that they have each other to interact with. Hand-raised cheetahs are really hard to breed in the future, but since they have each other, it will be easier when the time comes.”
And the big news is that starting Saturday July 28, the little cubs, which were born in April out in Front Royal, Virginia, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, will make their first in-town debut when they are released into their new yard at the National Zoo.
But these cats aren’t here just for their close up. Braun was there the night the cubs were rescued from the brink of death and says the pair is nothing short of a miracle in the cheetah-breeding world.
“Cheetahs are one of the most difficult cat species to breed,” Braun said. “We still don’t know a lot about them, so we are constantly learning.”
There are only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild, and Braun says that the work and research efforts in the breeding program is integral to creating a self-sustaining cheetah population in the wild.
So sports fans, here’s another cheetah highlight. For those of you getting hyped for the Olympics, the Zoo is going to name the cubs after the winners of the 100-meter dash competition. The fastest American male and female Olympiads will be shortly sharing names with the fastest land mammals in the world.
Zoo visitors can come check out the cubs at the Cheetah Conservation Station every day at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., at hour-long intervals at first. How long they romp about will be up to the cubs, but visitors should be ready with their cameras.
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