The cubs are quickly approaching their first birthdays, which means they are each due for two vaccines. All the husbandry training sessions we have done with the cubs have helped us prepare. We will administer both vaccines using a pole syringe, which is an extension pole that enables us to give injections from a safe distance. We also have a modified end with a syringe, instead of a needle, for applying topical medications.
The cubs have been getting comfortable eating in their stall with an added sideboard. This sideboard creates a "chute," which helps position the cubs closer to the mesh fence. We use this set up to weigh them, administer vaccines, shave their ID marks, and apply flea and tick medications.
Recently, we have started to introduce them to the pole syringe in this environment with a gentle poke on their back legs while they eat. During this training we do not poke the cubs with a needle, but instead use something blunt to get them used to being touched.
The cubs are also learning the verbal cue “touching,” which we say just before we touch them with the pole syringe. This gives them a warning, and it also adds a level of choice. As with all our training, the cheetah cubs can get up and leave if they want. This almost never happens, because they are happy to let us lightly touch them while getting meat and treats to eat.
Their other husbandry training has been improving as well. We are still working on shifting, but they are much better about going outside when asked. At their most recent weigh-in, Jabari tipped the scales at 73.6 pounds (33.4 kilograms), Hasani at 67.9 pounds (30.8 kilograms), Erindi at 65.7 pounds (29.8 kilograms) and Amabala at 63 pounds (28.6 kilograms).
Be sure to read up on Echo and her four cubs in previous updates! Curious about the different types of enrichment that cheetahs and other big cats receive? Check out an in-depth look at big cat enrichment..