The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute has some new residents – a litter of five cheetah cubs.
A 5-year-old named Rosalie birthed them over the course of about six hours Tuesday morning. The papa is a 10-year-old named Nick, who himself was the first cheetah born at the institute.
And, why, yes, they can be viewed on SCBI’s Cheetah Cub Cam.
“Keepers provided Rosalie with access to multiple dens, so it is possible she may move the cubs to an off-camera location,” they cautioned in a statement.
So far, all of the sweet kitties appear to be “strong, active, vocal[!] and eating well.” Keepers there will examine them — and see whether they’re male or female — whenever Rosalie feels comfortable leaving them alone for a while.
“Being able to witness the first moments of a cheetah’s life is incredibly special,” said Adrienne Crosier, a cheetah reproductive biologist at SCBI and the head of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan.
The institute, in Front Royal, Virginia, is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition, which aims to create and maintain a sustainable North American cheetah population under human care.
SCBI estimates that there are only about 7,000 such cats left in the wild. The species is considered vulnerable to extinction.