Cheetah Cubdate #8: Meat for Meals

This update was written by cheetah biologist Adrienne Crosier.

If you have been keeping up with Echo's cubs, Hasani, Amabala, Erindi and Jabari, you know they have been hitting all their cheetah milestones right on track — including regularly eating meat.

The cubs were cautious at first, taking meatball cues from mom. There were a lot of adorable chirps, a few purrs, plenty of stutters and even a hiss.

But in the last week, the cubs have really taken to their new food source. On June 4, keepers captured this video of the cubs chowing down as if they were cheetah pros (volume up!).

What are all those noises?

The chirps are from both Echo and the cubs. Echo talks to her cubs a lot! That's her making the “stuttering” sounds. She does that to make sure she knows where the cubs are and that they are OK. It’s like an overprotective mom constantly checking in on the kids. 

What exactly is the meat the cheetahs are eating?

The cubs get a beef-based diet, commercially produced specifically for carnivores. It has the balance of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals that carnivores, especially felids, need to thrive.

Is it a different variety of meat than mom Echo gets?

No. The meatballs that Echo eats are the same as those her cubs eat. Echo just gets to eat a lot of other food too, including frozen-thawed rabbits and bones.

When will the cubs be able to try more “grown up” cheetah chow?

We will start to offer the cubs their own frozen-thawed rabbits and bones after their 3-month exams.

Who is the best, most voracious eater?

All of the cubs eat very well! Jabari (whose name is Swahili for "fearless" or "brave one") and Erindi approach the tray readily with Echo. Hasani is a bit more cautious and will often wait until the others are eating to approach. Amabala ("Bala" for short) likes to give Echo a bath after eating. 

Are the cubs still nursing?

Yes, even though the cubs are eating meat, it’s only part of their diet. We expect the cubs to nurse until they are 3 to 4 months old.