#CheetahCubdate 7: Weekend Adventures and Another New Den

This update was written by cheetah biologist Adrienne Crosier.
Four cheetah cubs lay curled up next to each other in a blue plastic tub. A fifth cub sits up on top of one of its siblings, with its mouth open. The other cubs are all looking toward this fifth cub. There is hay coating the bottom of the tub.
On Sunday, Nov. 7, animal care staff weighed each of Rosalie's cubs and refreshed the shave marks. The 3.5-week-old cubs were bright, active and appeared healthy!

Loyal Cheetah Cub Cam viewers may have already noticed, but on Saturday, Nov. 6, cheetah mom Rosalie moved her cubs out of the webcam dens and back to the tall grasses in her yard, creating her own natural den.

While we’d love to keep an eye on the cubs via the cameras, it’s not always possible. In this case, animal care staff will still check in on Rosalie and the family while they are in the yard—and of course we’ll keep web cam viewers updated via these blogs!

On Saturday, we checked in and added hay to the grasses where the cubs were to offer additional bedding and warmth. We also added a third enclosed den to the yard, but Rosalie and the cubs stayed in the grasses Saturday night.

As I’ve mentioned before, the yards are not equipped with web cameras. We cannot (and would not) move the cameras, as placing them is technically difficult and could be disruptive to Rosalie and the cubs.

Five cheetah cubs sit and lay huddled in a corner of a white enclosed den. The floor of the den is covered in hay.
This photo was taken on Friday, Nov. 5, before Rosalie moved the cubs to her grass den. Animal care staff will continue to check on Rosalie and the family no matter which den they are in.

While Rosalie was eating her breakfast Sunday morning, we weighed each cub and refreshed the shave marks. All the cubs were bright, active and appeared healthy.

As I mentioned in the last update, the cubs are becoming more and more mobile. When we have an expecting cheetah mom, we place boards on the bottom half of the dens to help keep the cubs from accidentally tumbling out before they are ready. Once the cubs start climbing over the board, we remove them. Animal care staff removed these boards over the weekend to allow for the cubs to follow Rosalie more easily in and out of the dens.

On Sunday afternoon, we saw Rosalie enter the new, third den we set up by the grasses. Without cameras, it is not possible for us to know for sure if she moved the cubs in there with her. However, it is very unlikely she would be in the den without the cubs. Additionally, during our daily check on the cubs Monday morning, we noticed the hay in this den was extremely matted down. The cubs were already back in the grasses by this check, but it appears the family did spend at least part of the night in the den.

The next few days and nights are forecasted to be warmer at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The family now has three dens, including a heated one, to choose from when the temperatures start to drop again. It is very natural for a cheetah mom to move her litter and   Rosalie is doing an excellent job with her cubs. We will continue to do daily checks on the family, as Rosalie allows. Stay tuned for more updates!

Missing the cheetah cubs? Make sure to catch up on our previous updates!