Cheetah cubs now have their eyes wide open

Following the exciting news that Cheetah, Sia, successfully gave birth to 5 cubs on Tuesday 14th April we were sad to announce that one of the cubs had passed away. However the remaining 4 are growing stronger each day and have now all opened their eyes.

On the 28th April the Animal Care Team gave the cheetah cubs a quick health check and weighed them to ensure they’re all healthy. They all were a good weight but now that they have opened their eyes they will become more competitive for food. It is still early days for the cheetah cubs but so far all seems well. You can watch a video of the health check and weigh in below!

This litter of cubs are Sia’s first successful litter and with the average litter size for Cheetahs being 3-4 cubs we were surprised and delighted to see 5 had been born! We hope that all remaining 4 will survive and continue to thrive – nature always surprises us with what it can achieve.

During the health check keepers also too a closer look to determine the sex of the cubs and they believe that Sia had 3 female and 2 male cubs.

Now we have an idea of the genders, we’re starting to think of names for them. We would like to 3 of the names to begin with an N, H and S in honour of all the amazing frontline staff working hard to save lives. Naming 3 of the cubs in honour of the NHS is just one way in which we can show our appreciation for their dedication to protecting and saving lives whilst putting their own lives at risk.

The birth of these Cheetahs came during such an unprecedented time and gave us all hope and reassurance, a message from nature to say that life continues despite the crisis we’re all facing – perhaps the name of Hope is quite appropriate for the name beginning with H but we’d love to hear suggestions from the public. Share your suggestions with us on Facebook.

We’ll gather the suggestions over the next few weeks and the Animal Care Team who look after the Cheetahs will shortlist their favourites. The keepers will name some of the cubs but we will also be putting the others to the public to choose by voting for their favourites via our website to help raise money for Colchester Zoo’s Operating Fund – with the names that raise the most donations being the chosen ones!

The development of Cheetah cubs is similar to that of other big cats and their domestic cousins in that it takes around 2 weeks for their eyes to open and 4 weeks until they become more stable on their feet. It will be a number of weeks until they are big and strong enough to begin emerging from their den and this will also be determined by Sia, when she is comfortable and confident for them to start making an appearance outside. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date with their development and progress over the next few weeks.

Cheetahs come from Sub-Sahara Africa and small areas of the Middle East. They are classed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List so this litter is wonderful news for the species.

To find out more about our Cheetahs and to read the initial birth announcement please click here.

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