June 18 | from Shannon Richard
This week, an older female cheetah named Sanurra moved to the enclosure next to Echo and her cubs. We always wait until a mom and her cubs have had a few months to bond with each other and receive their first vaccines before we introduce next-door neighbors. So far, everything seems to be going well between them. Meanwhile, in the cubs’ yards, we gave them a tub to play in, explore and practice climbing. It is important that they keep physically active and strengthen their muscles.
Everyone has gotten the hang of coming to the tray for meat. The next step for us is to move the tray from their smaller yard to the indoor stall. We put their tray of food on top of the adult scale to show them that it is not scary and to encourage them to approach it. Eventually, we will train them to climb on top of the scale for a meatball reward as part of their routine husbandry, just like we do with the adults.
The cubs' father, Scotty, lounges with his brother Asante at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.
June 21 | from Adri Kopp
Happy Father’s Day! In light of the holiday, we wanted to introduce you to the cubs’ father, 4-year-old Scotty. Male cheetahs do not participate in the rearing of cubs. Instead, Scotty lives separate from his offspring in a coalition with his brother, Asante. In the wild, cheetah brothers from the same litter will generally stick together, so we mimic that social grouping in human care, too.
When the Species Survival Plan (SSP) scientists recommend that a female like Echo is a good match for a set of brothers equally, the cheetah team lets personality and behavior decide which male will be her mate. In the case of Scotty and Asante, Asante is usually the dominant male. (For example, he always eats first at feeding time.) However, when it came time to breed, Asante showed very little interest in Echo. Scotty, on the other hand, was very enthusiastic to meet her!