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8 cheetah cubs born at St. Louis Zoo

Wednesday - 03/01/2018 22:09
The 4-year-old Bingwa, has been an exemplary mother, the cheetah care team says.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Zoo gained eight new members in November.

A cheetah named Bingwa gave birth to eight cubs at the zoo. The three males and five females were born on Nov. 26.

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.

The 4-year-old Bingwa, has been an exemplary mother, the cheetah care team says.

“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” Steve Bircher, the zoo’s curator of mammals/carnivores, said in a news release.

Bingwa means “champion” in Swahili.

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She is on loan to the zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore. The father, 9-year-old Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Fla.

The cubs were born at the zoo’s River’s Edge Cheetah Breeding Center as part of a program to manage genetically healthy population of cheetahs at North American zoos. More than 50 cheetah cubs have been born at the breeding center since 1974, the zoo said.

The zoo says all eight cubs and the mom are doing well. They’ll remain indoors, away from the public and under close scrutiny from staff, for several months.

Cheetahs once roamed much of Africa and Asia. Today, only around 10,000 remain in the wild in Africa along with 100 or fewer in Iran. The decline in numbers is due in part to conflict with humans as well as lack of genetic diversity, the zoo said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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