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Cheetah in Missouri Gives Birth to Record Number of Cubs

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Cheetahs usually give birth to three to four cubs per litter, so when Bingwa, a cheetah living in St. Louis Zoo in Missouri, gave birth to eight cubs, it became a cause for celebration. The 4-year old Bingwa, which means “champion” in Swahili, reared her own cubs at the zoo.

This is the first time a cheetah gave birth to this many cubs, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which have documented more than 430 litters.

Bingwa is already the perfect mom to her cubs, three boys and five girls, the zoo said.

“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” said Steve Bircher, the zoo’s curator of mammals/carnivores.

Source: stlzoo.org
Too adorable!

Source: stlzoo.org

The cheetah mom is on loan from the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cubs’ father, 9-year old Jason, is originally from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida.

The birth of these cubs is worth more than exceeding the average number of cubs per litter. Cheetahs, which are the world’s fastest land mammal, is in danger of extinction. Estimates put the number of cheetahs remaining in the wild at only 7,100. The latest census conducted on cheetahs predict that there may be 53 percent less of these big cats over the next 15 years.

Cheetahs give birth about every 18 months and the rate of mortality is high. This makes replenishing the population more difficult.

According to mom.me:

“Cheetahs reach reproductive age between 20 and 24 months, with females coming into heat at any time of year. Gestation lasts approximately three months, resulting in a litter of between four and six cubs. While the mother weans the cubs between the ages of 3 and 6 months, they don’t go off on their own at that point. Cubs stay with their mother until the ages of 16 to 18 months, at which point this family unit breaks up while the mother goes off to find a mate.”

“Cheetah cub mortality rates are quite high. It’s unusual for all cubs in the litter to survive to adulthood. Most cubs die when very young, as the mother must leave her babies in search of prey. While she is out, other predators, such as lions, move in and kill cubs.”

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