CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT/Gray News) – A Virginia zoo says it has already had a record-setting year regarding new cheetah cubs at the facility.
WWBT reports that the Metro Richmond Zoo has welcomed 19 cheetah cubs from six different litters this year. The number represents the most cubs born in a year in the zoo’s history.
According to the zoo, the cubs’ births cover the months of March, June, July and August.
“We’re excited that we’ve got some new blood entering the captive cheetah population here in the United States,” said Jim Andelin, director of the Metro Richmond Zoo.
According to Andelin, the Zoological Association of America has an animal management plan for cheetahs, recommending the cubs’ mothers for breeding.
The zoo said a thriving population of cheetahs with diverse genetics is necessary to protect the species, as the cheetah population in the wild has decreased 93% in the last 120 years.
“There’s less than 7,000 of them in the wild. We’re maintaining a good, genetically diverse population here in the United States, so we can potentially send some back,” Andelin said.
Officials at the zoo said the cheetah cubs go through several veterinarian examinations, ensuring they are in good health while getting acclimated to their new environment.
Since 2013, 96 cheetahs have been born at the zoo, a cheetah boom to further conservation efforts.
“We want to make sure this population doesn’t decline any more than it already has,” Andelin said.
Once cheetahs can live independently, officials said many are transferred to other nationally accredited zoos under the animal management plan.
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