ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Zoo gained eight new members in November.
For the first time in history, a cheetah has given birth to eight cheetah cubs.
Three males and five females were born at the zoo's River's Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on Nov. 26, 2017.
According to a press release from the zoo, in over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, this is the first time a cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo. The average litter size is three to four cubs.
Animal care staff at the zoo are closely monitoring the family and it appears all eight are healthy.
4-year-old Bingwa, continues to be an exemplary mother, the cheetah care team says. Bingwa is on loan to the St. Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore. Bingwa means champion in Swahili.
The birth of these eight cubs is a result of a breeding recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program to manage a genetically healthy population of cheetahs in North American zoos.
“We've brought together cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says project manager, Steve Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”
The zoo says it'll be several months before the babies make their public debut.
Check on the cheetah cubs here.
More about cheetahs
Cheetahs have ranged widely throughout Africa and Asia. Currently, fewer than 10,000 cheetahs inhabit a broad section of Africa and less than 100 cheetahs remain in Iran. According to the zoo, over the last 50 years, cheetahs have become extinct in at least 13 countries.