A cheetah who had just given birth has successfully adopted three young cubs from another female who could not look after them.
Although it is known for cheetahs to sometimes adopt male cubs in the wild – because they will add to their own young’s chance of reproductive success – this was a first for the Dutch Safaripark Beekse Bergen.
The park coordinates a breeding programme to help increase numbers of the endangered animal. When one mother, Sara, was unable to care for her young, it decided to place her three male cubs with another female, Kate, who had recently given birth to her own three cubs.
‘This is an extraordinary situation that we have never experienced before,’ said zookeeper of carnivores Mariska Vermij-Van Dijk in a news release.
‘Sara was doing okay, but we saw her health declining, meaning that she could not care for her young and one cub died. Kate gave birth a day later, so we decided to lay Sara’s three male cubs in her nest. Kate accepted the cubs immediately and is caring for them beautifully.’
The cheetah, Kate, is receiving extra food for the larger litter and the other female, Sara is now doing better, she added.
In the wild there are only 7,000 adult cheetahs, and the species is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN red list of threatened species.
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