With fewer than 10,000 cheetahs left in the wild, the addition of even a single cub is hailed as a victory. Hence, you can only imagine the excitement caused by the January 3, 2018 announcement of the birth of eight cheetahs at the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) which manages 12 cheetah conservation facilities — including the one at the St. Louis Zoo — this is the first time such a large, healthy litter has been born. Previously recorded births have averaged between three to four cubs.
The adorable five female and three male cubs were born to Bingwa and nine-year-old Jason at the zoo’s River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on November 26, 2017. Bingwa is from Wildlife Safari, an animal park in Winston, Oregon, while Jason hails from the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida. Though both animals are on loan to the zoo, it is uncertain when, or if, they will be returned to their respective homes.
Coincidentally, the name “Bingwa” means “champion” in Swahili, a title the four-year-old female cat has undoubtedly lived up to in recent months. Earlier this year, she gave birth to a litter of seven cubs. Unfortunately, only one survived. However, the recently born eight cubs, that now weigh about 3 to 4 pounds each, have survived the crucial, early months and appear to be well on their way to becoming healthy adults.
Zoo officials, who are closely monitoring the precious animals, say that Bingwa is an “exemplary mother,” who has “quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing, and caring for them attentively.” Though it will be several months before the adorable cubs will make their public debut, fans can keep up with their progress, and learn more about cheetah conservation efforts, by visiting the zoo’s website — www.stlzoo.org.