Five incredibly cute and feisty felines have joined the Monarto Zoo family, with the birth of a healthy litter of Cheetah cubs to first-time mum, Kesho.
Zookeeper Michelle Lloyd told the ABC that four year old Kesho had taken to motherhood, and the cubs were doing very well. “Everyone’s thrilled to welcome the new arrivals to our cheetah coalition, it’s really exciting to see Kesho as a first-time mum,” she said. “She is doing a fantastic job caring for her young and tending to their every need.”
Lloyd explained that the zoo was giving Kesho and her family complete privacy, keeping them safe in a separate den and monitoring their development through a security camera.
With cheetahs classified as being “vulnerable to extinction”, breeding programs such as the one at the Monarto Zoo are an important step in conserving the species.
The number of cheetahs remaining in the wild is dwindling, with the species being almost entirely eradicated in Asia. According to a 2016 research paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science journal, the number of cheetahs living in the wild is estimated at 7100.
One of the greatest threats faced by the species is loss of habitat, with 91 per cent of the cheetah’s habitat in Africa and southwest Asia now disappearing. “It’s devastating to think that in the last 35 years, we’ve lost almost half of the wild cheetah population,” Ms Lloyd said.
For now, Kesho and her cubs will remain off limits to the public until they are old enough.
In the meantime, preview some of the footage of Kesho and her adorable cubs below: