ST. LOUIS, MO — Eight cheetah cubs and mother Bingwa are enjoying the sun Wednesday. FOX 2 reporter Katie Kormann got a sneak peek at the happy family before their big debut. The cubs and mother will be available for the public to view this Friday, May 4, 2018.
"We are proud to announce that this Friday, May 4, the Bingwa Bunch will begin to have access to the public habitat in River’s Edge during Zoo hours; however, there will be no set viewing schedule. Over the last several days, Carnivore keepers have been slowly introducing the eight 5-month-old cheetah cubs and their mother to the larger habitat. The cubs have been very energetic and quite interested in exploring their new space. Please keep in mind that we cannot guarantee viewing. Bingwa and her cubs are exploring their habitat at their own pace and can choose if they want to come out or stay behind the scenes. Because the Zoo is dedicated to caring for animals, providing them with the option of privacy is an important part of their quality care."
On November 26, 2017, for the first time in Saint Louis Zoo history, a cheetah gave birth to eight cheetah cubs. The cubs, three males and five females, were born at the Saint Louis Zoo River’s Edge Cheetah Survival Center. The mother and her cubs remained in their private maternity suite behind the scenes at River’s Edge for several months after the birth.
In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, this is the first time a female cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.
Four-year-old Bingwa, which means “champion” in Swahili, continues to be an exemplary mother, according to the cheetah care team. “She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” says Steve Bircher, curator of mammals/carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo.
At 5 months old, the cubs now weigh about 25-30 pounds each. They were given Swahili names by the animal care staff:
- Moja, female — means one
- Mbili, male — means two
- Tatu, male — means three
- Nne, female — means four
- Tano , male — means five
- Sita, female — means six
- Saba, female — means seven
- Nane, female — means eight
Bingwa is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore., and nine-year-old father Jason is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Fla. The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.