‘Tis the season for tasty feasts — even for our cheetah cubs! Not long after the last update, Amani’s cubs received meat for the first time. It’s the same meat diet Amani gets, just broken up into cub-sized pieces.
We offer the family a little meat on a tray in their yard so the cubs can access it more easily. For the first few days, the cubs didn’t really interact with the trays. More recently, we’ve seen them checking the trays out and eating a little. Cheetah cubs usually start eating meat between 6 and 8 weeks old, so at 7 weeks, these cubs are right on time.
We also occasionally offer Amani a little meat on a spoon as a treat at the fence. She has started to call the cubs over and they are slowly getting used to coming up to the fence. When they are feeling brave enough to approach, they will take small bites off the spoon. These interactions are helpful in continuing to build a relationship between the cubs and keepers, which is critical for husbandry training.
Last week the cubs had their first vet exam. Vets listened to the cubs’ hearts and lungs, took blood samples, checked their eyes and ears, and administered a first set of vaccinations. Both cubs pounced away with clean bills of health!
The cubs also continue to gain weight and needed a larger bucket for weigh-ins. At their 6-week vet exam, they weighed 6.5 and 7 pounds (3.21 and 2.95 kilograms). When weighed a week later, they had each gained about half a pound.
The cubs are now at a more rambunctious age, so it’s becoming more challenging to weigh them in the buckets. In the coming weeks, we will start working with Amani to have her reliably bring the cubs to the small yard to eat. From there, we can work toward bringing them into the stall and onto the adult scale.
While their high energy can be problematic for weighing them, it’s great for enrichment! Last week we set a large black tub with a window cut out of the side, upside down in the yard. It looks like a mini, makeshift den and we’ve watched the cubs explore the inside and run around it.
The cubs seem to have pretty short attention spans. They will take interest in something — like meat on a spoon or a new item in their yard — and then suddenly zoom off to chase something unseen. It’s fun watching them practice their running skills. They are actually pretty fast! Maybe about as fast as a border collie, but it's hard to compare since they are small and have short little legs.
If you’ve been trying to spot this cheetah family on the Cheetah Cub Cam lately, please continue to check back! They do not seem to be staying in one den specifically but do tend to sleep in one of the three dens at night. The cubs can now thermoregulate, or maintain their body temperatures, so it’s not uncommon for them to be out in the yard even when it’s cold. If they do want to go somewhere warm, both dens on the webcam are heated and the third den has plenty of hay.
Thank you for all your support of our cheetah program over the years! We hope you continue to enjoy the Cheetah Cub Cam and keep an eye out for more adorable updates on Amani and her cubs in the coming weeks.
Hungry for more cheetah cubs? Check out the Cheetah Cub Cam to catch a glimpse of this cheetah family and catch up on previous #CheetahCubdates here.