Image description: Two new cheetah cubs, pictured here at 2 and 16 days of age, were born earlier this month at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. The cubs, valuable additions to the dwindling genetic pool of this endangered species, should make their debut at the Zoo in late summer. But first, they had to survive a harrowing birth experience.
Five-year-old cheetah and first-time mom Ally gave birth to the first cub, a male, April 23. However, instead of nursing and cleaning the cub, she abandoned him, relatively common behavior for first-time mothers under human care.
Cheetah keepers moved the cub to the veterinary hospital to be treated for severe hypothermia. When Ally suddenly stopped having contractions hours later, vets anesthetized her to see if she had additional cubs. Additional heartbeats were heard, and a radiograph determined that three cubs remained.
Vets performed a cesarean section, a procedure rarely used on cheetahs and one that cubs do not often survive. A team of veterinarians, keepers and scientists worked for three hours to resuscitate the three cubs, performing CPR, administrating medications, and rubbing the cubs to dry and warm them. One of the three cubs, a female, did survive.
Both cubs and their mother were in intensive care for the following three days. The cubs’ father, Caprivi, was brought to the veterinary hospital to donate plasma to the cubs to boost their immune systems. Today both cubs and their mother appear to be in good health, though animal care staff is continuing to monitor all three carefully.
Check out more images and news about the cubs.
Image description: Picasso or Panda? Giant panda Tian Tian gets his paws dirty with non-toxic water-based paint at the National Zoo. Painting is one among many activities that fall under Animal Enrichment—a program that provides physically and mentally stimulating activities and environments for the Zoo’s residents.
Art produced by many of the Zoo’s mammal and bird residents will be available for purchase at the National Capital chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Art Show, which will take place spring 2012.
Photo by Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Image description: An Aldabra tortoise eats some grass at the National Zoo, in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Jessie Cohen, Smithsonian’s National Zoo.
Image description: A golden orb spider spins a web at the National Zoo.
Photo by Jessie Cohen, Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Image description: Two red panda (Ailurus fulgens) cubs born at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo on June 17 received a clean bill of health during their first veterinary exam yesterday. They appear to be very healthy, strong, active and have good vocalizations. Zoo veterinarian Margarita Woc-Colburn performed a complete physical exam and administered their first set of vaccines. She confirmed both cubs are female and are gaining weight steadily, weighing in at 374 grams (13 ounces) and 460 grams (one pound).
These cubs, which do not yet have names, are the first surviving offspring of three-year-old mother Shama and four-year-old father Tate. Visitors will be able to see the cubs and their parents at the Asia Trail exhibit this fall.
Photo by Mehgan Murphy, Smithsonian’s National Zoo.