Fight to Nurse Premature Cheetah Cubs to Health Continues

Posted April 14, 2016

Three cubs remain in the Cincinnati Zoo’s Nursery in critical care

3 cubsCINCINNATI, OH (April 14, 2016) – Two of five premature cheetah cubs, delivered via C-section at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Mast Farm on March 8, have now passed away.  The cubs have been receiving around-the-clock care in the Zoo’s Nursery since they were born, but their fight to survive has been an uphill battle due to low birth weight and underdeveloped systems.

“All of the cubs have struggled with digestive issues.  Their weight gain has been inconsistent, up one day and down the next,” said Dr. Mark Campbell, Director of Animal Health at the Cincinnati Zoo. “The cubs are now teething, so getting enough calories into them is even more challenging.  Their gums hurt, which makes feedings uncomfortable.”

A male that was noticeably weaker than the others, died on March 28.  Nursery and vet staff have been doing their best to help and support the premature cubs, but another male passed away late last night. The three remaining cubs, two females and one male, will continue with vet checks every three hours, and nursery staff is providing critical care 24/7.

 “The cubs’ condition has been guarded since day one.  They lack immunities that their mother’s milk would have provided, making them more susceptible to infection and less able to overcome what would normally be minor developmental issues,” said Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard. “While not entirely unexpected, the loss of this five-week-old cub has been particularly hard on Zoo staff.”

            The Cincinnati Zoo is one of nine institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) that participate in a cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC). Working closely with the AZA’s Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), the BCC’s goal is to create a sustainable cheetah population that will prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal.

            Cheetahs are endangered, and their population worldwide has shrunk from about 100,000 in 1900 to an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs today.