The Front Royal facility currently houses seven adult cheetahs and plans to bring in up to five additional adults from other institutions in North America this year.
"Not only is SCBI continuing to make strides in conserving cheetahs in the wild, but we are quickly emerging as a successful breeding facility to improve the management of the captive population," said Dave Wildt, director of SCBI's Center for Species Survival and head of C2S2's steering committee. "We aim to build a healthy, genetically diverse and sustainable insurance population so we can begin to manage this species globally, ensuring that cheetahs survive both in human care and in the wild for generations to come. Working together in our C2S2 breeding-center consortium is generating more information faster because we have more access to more study animals."
This is the second litter born to Amani. In December 2010 she gave birth to a male cub. Cheetahs that give birth to only one cub, called a singleton, often cannot produce enough milk to keep the cub alive. Typically, females in the wild will let a single cub die, after which they will enter estrus and breed again. So scientists at SCBI gave Amani's male cub to another female, Zazi, who had a 5-day-old single female cub. This strategy, known as cross-fostering, has worked and Zazi is raising the two active and healthy cubs.
Cheetahs, the fastest animals on land, are struggling to outpace threats to their survival in the wild. As the result of human conflict, hunting and habitat loss, there are only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers cheetahs a vulnerable species.
|Contact: Lindsay Renick Mayer|