Our orphaned cheetah cubs here at Cheetah Conservation Fund are growing in leaps and bounds. In late July, five cubs came to us at four months of age with four being female and one being male. Half way through August we unfortunately had to bring in three more orphaned cubs at almost a year of age – two male and a single female – as their mother, Zinzi, was killed by a leopard.
With the hope of release back into the wild when they are old and strong enough, the cheetah team has to make sure these cheetah cubs remain wary of humans and are not habituated to their presence. We intend to make every effort to keep their wild instincts intact. Very few staff members have the ability to interact with these cubs and they are not visible to the public. This is to make sure the cubs do not become accustomed to people and vehicles which is vital for their survival in the wild.
With the use of special feeding and care techniques the cheetah team is able to have as little contact as possible while completing their husbandry tasks. Their daily routine involves making sure the pens are intact and clear of debris, their water is fresh, and they are getting a proper amount of food. In the wild, cheetahs may not necessarily eat every day and in order to mimic this behavior, the cheetah team uses fasting days in order for the cubs to maintain a healthy digestive system. The cheetah care team sets a series of enclosures to lure the cubs into a secluded spot for meals. This allows the team to clean their enclosures and maintain distance with as little contact as possible.
At the moment, CCF has separated the males from the females in both age groups. The reason for this is to introduce the younger male, from the litter of five, to the two older males from Zinzi’s litter, in hopes they will form a coalition and then they can be released as a unit. The younger orphaned male cub will have a better chance in the wild if he is part of a coalition. CCF also hopes to repeat this process with the female cubs from both litters. This will hopefully give all the orphaned cubs a better chance of survival in the wild.
Since the cubs’ arrival, they are growing more independent and brave by the day. It is clear to see which cubs in the litters take on certain roles such as: the most dominant, the look out, and the leader. Each cub has their own personality which is a good way for the cheetah team to tell them apart along with their distinguished spotted pattern. It is good to see the cubs becoming individual’s while still remaining very wary of anyone who comes by. Their hisses, spats, and cheetah slaps are very much appreciated!
Dr. Marker offered the ability to name the cheetah cubs during her recent tour. So far six of the cheetahs have been named by CCF supporters, and the names that they chose are: Kamin, Daenarys, Susan, Elwood, Tatyana, and one that is still being decided. There are still two cubs left to name, so if you would like the opportunity please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.