Cheetah cubs at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Cheetahs are well known as among the fastest of land animals. But after seeing the two cubs born three weeks ago at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, they just might be the cutest things on land as well.
Allie the cheetah gave birth to two cubs on September 1. Allie, sadly, has not shown herself to be a conscientious mother to her previously born offspring. Because of this the two, as yet not named cubs, are going to be raised and nurtured by humans in place of their birth mom. The cutie cheetahs eyes have just opened and they are taking to the bottle feeding by the people at the Safari Park. They’ve grown to more than three pounds each and are now able to be seen by visitors to the park for several hours a day.
In addition to the human surrogate parents, the cheetahs will each be paired with a canine “sibling” to grow up with. In a time-tested protocol, baby cheetahs have been assigned puppy companions. Together the cheetah/puppy partners function as ambassadors for the Safari Park and the main Zoo. The dogs and cats learn to play and interact with each other, and thereby learn to be calm and playful around human visitors.
While cheetahs can achieve speeds approaching 70 miles per hour, they are quickly disappearing from the wild, hunted down by lions and other predators including hyenas. A 90% decrease in the last hundred years in the number of cheetahs outside of zoos and preserves is a cause for great concern regarding their continued existence as a species.
Now considered officially “vulnerable”, there may be less than 10,000 cheetahs left in all of Africa, and less than one hundred in Asia. They number near 700 in captivity, more than 250 of which are in the United States. For more information on the cheetahs and other programs of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, visit their website.