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Nestled in their warm den, newborn cheetahs at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute spend their days doing what any young animal does: lots of sleep. What makes these pups special, however, is the dedicated online audience that logs in from all over the world to track their growing babies and learn about their developmental milestones.
The twin boys, born for the first time on October 3 to parents Amani and Asante, make up the 17th litter of cheetah cubs born at the institute and the first since October 2021. With 24/7 coverage of the 2-week-old twins on the official Cheetah Cub Cam, viewers can check in on them and their mother for 10 months. It’s a unique way to learn about the vulnerable species, of which there are only about 7,000 left in the world, says Adrienne Crosier, a cheetah biologist at the institute.
“Most people will never see a cheetah in the wild, at least, and not everyone will see a cheetah in zoos and conservation facilities either,” Crosier said. “Anyone can log into this cam, watch Amani and her cubs, and watch as much as they want.”
The Smithsonian National Zoo is one of 50 zoos that are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, and 10 of them are part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition, with the mission of achieving and maintaining a sustainable population of North American cheetahs. Crosier is responsible for the coalition’s breeding program, where it manages 320 cheetahs under the Species Survival Plan.
Zookeepers performed their first two health checks on the cubs this week, and Crosier said the babies are healthy and strong and nursing well, while 4-year-old Amani has exceeded experts’ expectations with her mothering skills. In four weeks the puppies will have their first veterinary examination, where they will receive their initial vaccinations.
To see Amani and her cubs, visit the Cheetah Cub Cam on the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute website.