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08 01/08/2013

Rare Northern Cheetah Twins Make Debut

  • Cheetahs
  • Mammals
  • New arrivals

These adorable bundles of fluff have made their first public appearance.

Cheetah cubs at Chester Zoo

The two rare northern cheetah cubs were born eight weeks ago to mother, KT.

The tiny duo and mum had been in a special off-show area for the last few weeks but have now been introduced to the world after completing a general health check, which revealed they are male and female.

Now the youngsters are beginning to develop their own personalities, climbing on tree stumps and bouncing around after one another.

Team manager of carnivores, Dave Hall, said:

“They’re very, very playful and a real handful for mum. But she’s exceptionally good with them and doing a great job of bringing them up.”

Cheetah cub at Chester Zoo

Over the last 100 years the wild population has plunged by 90% and it is feared there may be as few as 250 northern cheetahs left.

The arrival of the two cubs is therefore not only a cause for celebration for us but also the International Endangered Species Breeding Programme working to save the species from extinction.

Chester Zoo’s breeding facility has been set up to replicate how adult cheetahs would find a mate in the wild.

Curator of mammals, Tim Rowlands, said:

“Northern cheetahs exist only in a handful of zoos in Europe and, having bred them for the very first time here in 2011 we have now managed to repeat that breeding success which, for me, is even more of an accomplishment.

“Cheetahs may be the fastest animals on land but they’re struggling to outpace the threats to their survival in the wild. They have fallen prey to hunting, human conflict and habitat loss in their native Africa. Sadly, they are now vulnerable to extinction.

“The fact we now know how to breed them at least gives us hope that we can maintain a healthy, viable population in zoos.”

Chester Zoo supports the N/a’an ku sê Carnivore Research Project which is based in Namibia, where the dwindling cheetah population is monitored and tagged.

Cheetah cubs - Chester Zoo

Cheetahs are perceived to be a major threat to livestock by farmers in Namibia, despite researchers saying they are responsible for less than five per cent of predator-related livestock deaths.

Indeed, after the zoo helped fit GPS tracking collars on a number of cheetahs, the evidence gathered proved that three male cheetahs were not involved in recent attacks on cattle.

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Fast facts

• The cubs were born on 4/6/2013

• The cubs have not yet been named

• Mum KT is over six years old, having been born on 26 Mar 2007. It her second litter having given birth to cubs in June 2011

• Dad is called Matrah who is also six years old (born 22 April 2007)

• The Northern cheetah is endangered in its native northwest Africa - largely because they have increasingly found themselves coming into conflict with larger predators and also farmers, as both their habitat and access to prey has reduced

• Chester Zoo supports the N/a’an ku sê Carnivore Research Project which is based in Namibia, where the dwindling cheetah population is monitored and tagged

• Cheetahs are perceived to be a major threat to livestock by farmers in Namibia. This is despite researchers saying they are responsible for less than five per cent of predator-related livestock deaths

• Chester Zoo helped develop a technique to identify cheetahs in the wild from their paw prints. The footprint identification technique (FIT) uses digital images of the footprints to build a databank allowing the cats to be identified in a non-intrusive way

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