Amani may have moved the cubs off cam, but keepers are pleased to report the family is doing great!
On Oct. 19, 4-year-old cheetah mom, Amani, moved her two male cubs from the den into the tall grasses in the yard. A lot of cheetah mothers do this, both in human care and in the wild. Dens can become filled with the mother and cubs’ scent after a while, which could attract unwanted visitors. In the wild there are a lot more predators for cheetahs to worry about, and Amani is likely following her natural instincts. The grasses are very dense and provide wonderful cover and protection. It’s a perfect den to a cheetah mom, and very similar to what a female would choose in the wild.
Lucky webcam viewers might have gotten a preview of this move if they tuned in on Oct. 13 (watch it here now). Learning how to pick up and move cubs takes experience. While we cannot confirm Amani was trying to move the cubs on the 13, we did watch her practice picking them up. The boys were a bit too wriggly at the time, but after a few days she figured it out! When she finally did move the cubs, she had mastered the technique of gently picking them up by the scruff. It took her less than 10 minutes!
We aren’t worried about Amani’s move. The weather in Front Royal, Virginia – where Amani and her cubs live – has been nice and warm. While it might get chilly overnight, Amani sleeps with the cubs to keep them warm. Keepers are also helped by adding some hay to the grasses and an extra den, just in case Amani needs more options. Based on some ruffled hay, keepers think she at least checked the den out once.
The only downside to the new den is there isn’t the option to add a webcam. However, as we’ve seen with litters in the past, cheetah mothers have a tendency to move her cubs between dens. So, stay tuned to the webcams, as Amani could move the cubs back any time.
We continue to weigh the cubs and these boys are hefty compared to previous litters! With only two cubs, there is less competition for resources. That said, we still consider the boys’ weights to be excellent for 3-week-old cubs. When we weighed them on Oct. 24, the lighter-colored cub weighed 3.88 pounds (1.76 kilograms) and the darker-colored cub weighed 3.59 pounds (1.63 kilograms).
The cubs continue to get their feet under them and toddle around. They aren’t great at walking yet, but they are learning! We think they will start following Amani around in the next week or two. They’re also finding their voice, chirping, stuttering, growling and hissing.
Stay tuned for news of the cubs return to the Cheetah Cub Cam and for more #CheetahCubdates in the coming weeks. In the meantime, catch up on previous Cubdates here.