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Cheetah Cub Cam FAQs

Cheetah Echo gave birth to four cubs April 8, 2020! Tune in to the Cheetah Cub Cam streaming live from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, for all the action. Have a question about Echo and her cubs? Read the FAQs below.

Echo is a 5-year-old cheetah living at SCBI in Front Royal, Virginia. She previously lived at White Oak Conservation Center in Florida and joined the SCBI breeding program in June 2016. She is a very feisty and confident female.

This is Echo’s first pregnancy. Keepers have high hopes for her as a cheetah mom, as she was raised by her own cheetah mom without any human intervention. This means she has a good chance of having learned cheetah-mom behaviors from the best teacher — her mom!

Keepers gave Echo an ultrasound! As part of Echo’s enrichment and training, keepers worked with her to voluntarily participate in her veterinary care. Read more about Echo’s training.
Many times when an animal is about to give birth, keepers set up a camera to make sure they can monitor the health and well-being of the mother, and in this case, the cubs. The webcam feed you’re watching is one that keepers monitor 24/7. It was set up long before Echo was pregnant and will remain in place for as long as keepers need to make sure Echo is doing well.
Scott, a 4-year-old male, is the father of Echo's cubs. The two mated in early January. Echo and Scott are part the Species Survival Plan, or SSP. The cubs of the animals recommended to breed through the SSP would bring much needed genetic diversity to the population of cheetahs in human care.
Cheetahs are usually pregnant for about 90 days, or three months. Based on Echo's Jan. 4 and 5 breeding, that placed her birth window between April 2 and April 10.
Echo has four cubs. On average, cheetahs give birth to three to four cubs, but can have up to eight! Keepers will monitor the cubs via this webcam.
Interaction between a mother cheetah and her cubs helps them bond. Echo licks her cubs to clean and groom them. She has to do this right after birth and will continue to groom them regularly as they grow. Echo also uses grooming to stimulate her cubs to urinate and defecate. You may see Echo nursing (feeding) her cubs, and as they get older, Echo and her cubs will also play together.
Cheetah cubs chirp when they are looking for their mom, or when they are hungry or cold. You may also hear the cubs and Echo purring.
Sometimes first-time animal moms can have trouble caring for their young or do not make enough milk to feed them. If that’s the case, keepers will step in and hand-rear the cubs.
Probably not. These cheetah cubs are part of an extensive breeding program at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.
Not counting Echo's new cubs, 26 cheetahs live on the 9-acre breeding facility and the about 2-acre satellite Cheetah Ridge facility in Front Royal, Virginia. They are purposefully nestled away in a quiet area, because cheetahs breed more successfully in quiet environments.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s legacy of conservation work extends beyond the public Zoo in Washington, D.C., to the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. Scientists at SCBI study and breed more than 20 species, including some that were once extinct in the wild, such as black-footed ferrets and scimitar-horned oryx.

Animals thrive in specialized barns and building complexes spread over more than 1,000 acres. The sprawling environment allows for unique studies that contribute to the survival of threatened, difficult-to-breed species with distinct needs, especially those requiring large areas, natural group sizes and minimal public disturbance.

The cheetahs did indeed have a visitor in their den overnight May 18, 2020! Echo and her cubs were not in the den at the time. Because SCBI is located in the Shenandoah mountains, native wildlife often makes its way onto the 3,200-acre property. The risk posed to the cheetah cubs is minimal, especially since they have mom Echo around to protect them. The visiting opossums also provide a valuable service by eating any ticks they find in the cheetah yards. Occasionally, keepers do catch and remove opossums, but more often than not, these visitors choose to leave on their own.