(PRWEB UK) 31 October 2013
Port Lympne Wild Animal Park is thrilled to announce the birth of the first cheetah cubs at the park in almost 30 years.
Known affectionately to keepers as Izzy, the southern cheetah gave birth to her litter of four cubs on 8th September and keepers are delighted by the progress that they are making so far.
The birth of the cubs is very significant to Port Lympne and to the park’s successful breeding programme as cheetahs are presently listed as vulnerable, due particularly to their high cub mortality rate.
Rich Barnes, Head of Large Carnivores commented: “We are really chuffed that as a first time Mum Izzy’s done really well. It is quite difficult to breed cheetahs as the process is quite different to other species, so we are really pleased that it has all gone well.”
The process of breeding cheetahs is more complex than other animals as the females show definite mate preference, which makes it hard for keepers to introduce pairs. Breeding cheetahs subsequently requires far more management by the keepers than other species do. It is therefore an extraordinary accomplishment for the breeding to have been successful on its first attempt, due to the difficulties inherent in breeding this species in captivity.
In the wild, cheetahs can be found in isolated pockets across Asia and Africa. Conservation of the species in the wild is made more challenging due to the scattered distribution of the species. As a result they also face the threat of habitat loss and fragmentation, as most of the existing protected areas are not presently large enough to ensure the long term survival of cheetahs.
The cheetahs’ lightweight and agile physique allows them to reach speeds of up to 70 mph across short distances. As diurnal hunters, their streamlined build also restricts their prey to medium-sized birds and mammals, particularly gazelle.
Izzy arrived at Port Lympne a year and a half ago from Ebeltoft in Denmark as part of the park’s breeding programme. She was introduced to one of the park’s male cheetahs, Sifiso, and the cubs are their first offspring together.