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Cheetah Cubdate #9: Treats and Toys

As many of you know, our 3-month-old cheetah cubs Amabala, Jabari, Hasani and Erindi sampled their first taste of meat at the end of May and are enthusiastic eaters! Although they still receive ground beef every day, we recently added a new item to their diet. Occasionally, we will provide them with frozen-thawed rabbits, which mimic the prey that cheetah cubs consume in the wild.

Three-month-old cheetah cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute eat from a tray of meat with mom, Echo.

These carcass feedings are important for the cubs’ overall health. The skin, fur and bones are full of fiber and aid in the digestive process. The internal organs are also rich in nutrients that help the cubs grow big and strong. Prey such as this helps strengthen their jaw muscles, too.

Three-month-old cheetah cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute carries a frozen-thawed rabbit.

Food presentation is only one way we encourage the cubs to use their natural behaviors. We also provide them with enrichment items that move like prey—they roll, wobble and are just fun to pounce on or chase around the yards. Not only do these toys help to hone their hunting skills, but they also keep the cubs physically fit and mentally sharp.

Three-month-old cheetah cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute plays with an enrichment toy.

Small jolly balls are just the right size for our cubs. The weeble-wobble is about the same size as mom, Echo, though some of the cubs have been brave enough to try and tackle the leaning tower.

Three-month-old cheetah cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute splashes in the water dispenser.

Occasionally, the cubs will make toys out of items that aren’t necessarily meant for play purposes—like splashing in the water dispenser!

Three-month-old cheetah cub at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute plays with an enrichment toy.

These items are built to be hearty, but over time they wear down after so many teeth and claw marks. If you would like to help us replenish some of the cubs’ worn-but-well-loved toys, you can do so by making a donation to the Enrichment Trunk. On behalf of the cubs, thank you for your generosity!

Can't get enough of the cheetah cubs? Watch them on the webcam! Check out previous updates and follow along on the Zoo's social media with the hashtag #CheetahCubdates.