ST. LOUIS – A first for the Saint Louis Zoo, as a cheetah gave birth to eight cubs last November!
According to Christy Childs, a zoo spokeswoman, the cubs were born November 26, 2017. In over 430 documented litters, this is first time a cheetah has produced and reared a litter of eight cubs at a zoo, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums reported. The average size of a cheetah litter is three or four cubs.
The mother, 4-year-old Bingwa (which means “champion” in Swahili), has taken to her maternity duties and is caring for all eight of the cubs. She was on loan at the Saint Louis Zoo from the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The father, 9-year-old Jason, was on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida. The successful birth is a result of an ongoing national breeding program to manage a healthy cheetah population in North American zoos.
Over 50 cheetah cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo.
The mother and her cubs, three males and five females, are doing well and will be kept at the zoo’s private maternity den at River’s Edge for the next several months. It’s unclear when they will be seen by the public.
Cheetahs typically range across Africa and Asia. Fewer than 10,000 cheetahs live in Africa; they’ve become extinct in at least 13 countries. The reasons for the decline in cheetah population are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition, and lack of genetic diversity.