For the first time since five cheetah cubs were born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va., on May 28, 2011, animal care staff had a few brief moments to weigh and inspect the animals this week. According to staff, the cubs appear to be healthy, doing well and are very active. On average, the cubs currently weigh about 2 pounds. Keepers will continue to monitor the newborns, while giving the mother, 6-year-old Amani, privacy to bond with her offspring.
“When I was weighing the last cub, he was being a very tough little guy,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist. “We’re already starting to see differences in their dispositions and look forward to watching them grow and learning all we can from them.”
Cheetahs, the fastest animals on land, are struggling to outpace threats to their survival in the wild. Because of human conflict, hunting and habitat loss, there are only an estimated 7,500 to 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers cheetahs a vulnerable species.
The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute serves as an umbrella for the Smithsonian Institution’s global effort to understand and conserve species and train future generations of conservationists. Headquartered in Front Royal, Va., SCBI facilitates and promotes research programs based at Front Royal, the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and at field research stations and training sites worldwide.