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Stop Panda Pregnancy Watch-ing, there's a new cute, fuzzy animal in town! We're talking about Sorris and Amani's five new cheetah cubs coming at you live from the the National Zoo.
Perhaps Cheetah is the new Panda?
Amani birthed the litter of five cubs on May 28 between 12:3-3:15 p.m. at the National Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. This was her second litter. Her first resulted in only one cub. Since cheetahs need to birth more than one cub in a litter in order to have enough milk, Amani's first male cub was given away to another cheetah, Zazi. Zazi is cross-fostering Amani's first-born with Zazi's own female cub.
Currently, it's still difficult to determine the sexes, but cheetah keepers at the Zoo’s Front Royal facility believe there are three males and two females. The cubs were originally shaved in certain areas to help the keepers tell the cubs apart and are weighed weekly.
Perhaps sensing the extra attention, on June 21, Amani followed motherly cheetah protocol and moved her cubs to a new area in her habitat. Unfortunately, this area provides no camera access. Cheetahs will often move their litter in the wild to prevent discovery from predators. Onlookers comment that Amani is adapting to motherhood rather well.
Like any newborn, human or cub, the little ones had to visit the doctor -- or rather, vet. Their first exam was on July 12. But Amani isn't worried, the cubs are all right. They're healthy and growing, currently at four-to-five pounds each. Naturally, the cubs are up-to-date on all vaccinations. No more Mohawks, though, the cubs now each have identification transponder beneath their skin.
Perhaps even better than LOLcats, you can download pictures of the cubs at the National Zoo’s Flickr page. Stay up-to-date with the cubs' progress on the National Zoo's Twitter and Facebook pages. Still pawing for more? Check out the Keeper Updates on SCBI Cheetah Cubs page. If you're feeling generous you can even donate $65 to help support the endangered species.