Cheetahs Rosalie and Nick are excited to announce the birth of quintuplets. The proud parents welcomed five healthy cheetah cubs on October 12 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia, reports Jane Recker of the Washingtonian.
The spotted spawn were born within a span of six hours—5:20, 8:24, 9:42, 10:33 and 11:17 a.m. ET. Rosalie, the five-year-old mother, can be seen caring for her bountiful brood on a live streaming webcam provided by Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.
“Seeing Rosalie successfully care for this litter—her first—with confidence is very rewarding,” Adrienne Crosier, SCBI’s cheetah reproductive biologist, says in a statement. “Being able to witness the first moments of a cheetah’s life is incredibly special. As webcam viewers watch our cheetah family grow, play and explore their surroundings, we hope the experience brings them joy and helps them feel a deeper connection to this vulnerable species.”
With less than 7,500 cheetahs in the wild, the species has been labeled “vulnerable to extinction” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Cheetahs live in small, isolated populations mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where their numbers are being decimated by human conflict, poaching, and habitat and prey-base loss, according to the SCBI statement.
Since 2007, 16 litters of cheetah cubs have been born at SCBI, including a family of four in 2020. In September, SCBI staff took over care of a day-old cub that was abandoned by its mother due to lack of milk stimulation. The baby was bottle-fed by hand for 17 days until it could be sent to an adoptive mother cheetah at a breeding facility in Oregon, where it is now thriving.
SCBI is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition—a group of ten breeding centers across the United States that maintain a sustainable North American cheetah population under human care, reports the Washingtonian. Crosier coordinates the effort through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan, which she heads.
SCBI spearheads research programs at its headquarters in Virginia, National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and field research stations and training sites worldwide. Scientists at the facility tackle complex conservation challenges by applying knowledge of animal behavior and reproduction, ecology, genetics, migration and conservation sustainability, the SCBI statement says.
Mom and her babies can be viewed on the cheetah cam until the cubs leave the den. The new family has access to other areas at the facility, so it is possible they may be off-camera if they go out and explore.
Genders of the cute cubs are not known at this time since SCBI keepers have not been able to examine the brood in person yet. Rosalie is doing well, though is understandably tired after giving birth to the five cheetah cherubs. The father, ten-year-old Nick was the first cheetah ever born at SCBI.