MOSELEY, Va. (WRIC)—Earlier this month, five cheetah cubs were born at the Metro Richmond Zoo; all are doing well and have grown quickly in the last two weeks.
On Monday morning the zoo announced that the cubs—three males and two females—were born on Oct. 6 to 4-year-old Lana and 5-year-old Kitu at its cheetah breeding center. This litter was the first ever born at the Metro Richmond Zoo and only the third born in the United States this year.
"It'll be fun to watch them and mom," says Metro Richmond Zoo Director Jim Andelin. "The cubs are not moving very far but as they start to explore they're going to give her fits when five different directions those cubs go."
Cheetahs are an endangered species -- and Andelin says this litter is providing a much-needed boost to the population in captivity.
The birth is only the third of its kind in the United States this year, the first ever at the Metro Richmond Zoo.
"We're really excited, excited for first time here at the zoo and hope it's not beginners luck but we're excited for the cheetah population."
The adult cheetahs at the zoo came from a private breeding facility in Africa and have bloodlines unrelated to many others in the U.S.
Breeding is especially challenging and the whole process can take weeks - if it happens at all.
Andelin doesn't know when the cubs will go on display.
For now, the zoo's just celebrating the miracle of their birth.
"The most important thing is the health and well-being of the mom and the cubs and we want to make sure she's not too disturbed at this point."
The cheetah is the world's fastest land mammal and the species has been classified as endangered; just over 10,000 cheetahs remain in Africa and they have one of the slowest growth rates in captivity.
The zoo's not stopping with this litter. It's trying to breed two other females, so the celebration of more cubs may be down the road.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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