New Cheetah Mom Surpasses Expectations

On September 22, Sukiri, a cheetah at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, gave birth to her first litter of cubs. The three baby cheetahs are doing fine under Sukiri's care, and have bonded well with their mom. That makes ten cheetah cubs born at the facility this year, and has biologists breathing a sigh of relief.

Biologists were initially worried Sukiri would struggle adapting to motherhood. Her own mother aggressively handled her and her two brothers, wounding the cubs’ necks when she carried them. Concerned by this, SCBI biologists made the decision to hand-rear Sukiri and her brothers apart from their mother. Following several surgeries, the cubs made a full recovery and have all survived into adulthood.

“We always want moms to raise their own cubs because it increases the probability that those cubs will breed and raise their own cubs as adults,” Crosier says. “Sukiri was clearly able to adapt and being hand-reared has not affected her ability to raise cubs at all.”

Read more about Sukiri and her three cubs (and their father, too) at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: National Zoo)

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