Nestled in their heated den, the newborn cheetah cubs at Smithsonian's Conservation Biology Institute spend their days doing what just about any young animal does - a lot of sleeping. What makes these cubs special, however, is their dedicated online audience, checking in from all over the world to monitor the growing babies and experience their developmental milestones.
The twin boys, born October 3 to first-time parents Amani and Asante, make up the 17th litter of cheetah cubs born at the institute and the first since October 2021. With 24/7 coverage of the 2-week-old twins on the official Cheetah Cub Cam, viewers will be able to check in on them and their mom for up to 10 months. It's a unique way to get acquainted with the vulnerable species, of which only about 7,000 are left in the world, said Adrienne Crosier, a cheetah biologist at the institute.
"Most people will never get to see a cheetah in the wild, to say the least, and not everyone will get to see cheetahs even in zoos and conservation facilities," Crosier said. "Anyone can log on to this camera, see Amani and her cubs, and watch them as much as they want."
The Smithsonian National Zoo is one of the 50 zoos that are a part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, 10 of which also belong to the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition with a mission to achieve and maintain a sustainable North America cheetah population. Crosier is responsible for the coalition's breeding program, where she manages 320 cheetahs in the Species Survival Plan.
Zookeepers performed their first two health checks on the cubs this week, and Crosier said the babies appear to be healthy, robust boys that are nursing well, while 4-year-old Amani has surpassed experts' expectations with her mom skills. In four weeks, the cubs will have their first veterinary exam, where they will receive their initial vaccines.
To check in on Amani and her cubs, visit the Cheetah Cub Cam at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute's website.
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