Taronga Western Plains Zoo is celebrating the arrival of its second Cheetah cub this year. Keepers are helping to hand-raise the female cub after its mother was unable to look after it.
The cub was one of two born to first-time mother Kyan on 17 October, but sadly the other cub was stillborn.
As singleton cubs are often rejected by their mothers, keepers monitored the mother and cub closely. When they noticed Kyan’s attention to the cub decreasing, especially when feeding, the decision was made to intervene.
“We were watching Kyan closely when we knew there was only one cub and eventually decided to intervene to give the cub the best chance of survival,” said Keeper, Jordan Michelmore.
The cub is now receiving round-the-clock care, with a team of keepers staying overnight and feeding her five times a day.
Jordan said the cub is developing well, growing in strength and starting to chase balls and stalk play toys. She weighed in at a healthy 1.7kg during her most recent health check, a promising result for the team who are helping to raise the cub.
This is the second Cheetah cub to be hand-raised at the Zoo this year. Another female cub named Siri also needed a helping hand from keepers after being rejected by her mother.
Siri made headlines earlier this year as the first Cheetah cub in Australia to be introduced to a companion dog, a retriever cross mastiff puppy named Iris. The pair has since formed a strong bond, living together day and night. Keepers hope this second cub will develop a similar bond with Iris and have already facilitated a controlled introduction between the two.
“Iris has such a placid nature. When she was introduced to the new cub she simply laid down and rolled on her back while the cub sniffed and explored her new friend,” said Jordan.
These introductions will increase under the watchful eye of keepers, with the long term goal of this cub joining the breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
“Cheetahs are classified as vulnerable, so every birth is important. Although hand-raising can be challenging, this cub and Siri may one day have very important roles to play for their species as part of the regional breeding program,” said Cheetah Supervisor, Jennifer Conaghan.