#CheetahCubdate 11: Decoding Cub Chatter and a Clean Bill of Health

This update was written by cheetah biologist Adrienne Crosier and veterinary medical officer Dr. Kristina Delaski.
A 7-week-old cheetah cub is held by a keeper wearing a gray sweatshirt and neon yellow work gloves. A vet, standing to the right wearing a blue mask and gray winter coat, listens to the cub's breathing with a stethoscope.

Last week, several of the cheetah cubs showed signs of a mild respiratory infection. We are pleased to say, after a week of antibiotics and keeping a close eye on them, all five of Rosalie’s cubs appear to be healthy! The coughing stopped earlier this week and the cubs’ breathing sounded clear during a final antibiotic treatment on December 2.

When cheetah cubs are around 6 weeks old, like Rosalie’s cubs, their immune systems are still developing and the immunity they get from their mother starts to wear off. This, in combination with the colder weather, can put cubs at a risk for developing respiratory infections. Thankfully, we caught this one early and all the cubs recovered quickly.

We were also pleased to find the cubs quite feisty during each check-up. They have a lot more energy and confidence now – with us and each other. The cubs often run around and play after a meal. One of the male cubs was even brave enough to come up to the fence while a keeper was nearby with food, resulting in a video we couldn’t resist sharing.

Listen to Rosalie and one of her male cub's vocalizing to each other and a keeper standing nearby. 

As you can see and hear in the video (and often on the Cheetah Cub Cam), cheetahs can be very vocal. The cub chirps, hisses and makes a high-pitched growl at the keeper. All of these sounds are ways cheetah cubs warn potential predators to stay back. In this case, it’s obvious the cub is still a little unsure since he quickly runs back to Rosalie for reassurance.

You can also hear Rosalie stutter to the cubs, which is how a mother cheetahs calls “come here.” Rosalie also chirps a little, which is another way for her to call to the cub or to communicate a warning. Cheetahs will also chirp to let other cheetahs know where they are.

Keepers have been offering Rosalie's cubs meat trays for about two weeks now. Usually cubs this age eat with their mothers, but some of the cubs have already started eating on their own!

These cubs are no strangers to food! We have been offering the cubs meat trays for about two weeks now, but usually they only eat from them when Rosalie is around. One morning this week, keepers offered the cubs a meat tray while Rosalie was in another area eating her breakfast. A few of the cubs started chowing down even though Rosalie wasn’t there!

The cubs have their next exam in a couple of weeks. Between now and then they will continue to grow — in size and confidence! Stay tuned for more cute moments.

Curious about these cheetah cubs? Make sure to catch up on previous #CheetahCubdates. Tune into the live Cheetah Cub Cam to watch the cubs snuggle and sleep.