Three new cheetah cubs made their appearance at Dickerson Park Zoo earlier this month. The triplets, born May 2, are the first cheetah cubs born at the zoo since 2003.
A cheetah birth is “a big deal” in the zoo community because they are difficult to breed, according to senior zookeeper Ken Harmon.
Zookeeper Sheila Samek said they’d been trying to breed the female, Roni, for two years. The cubs’ father is Tendagi.
According to Dickerson Park Zoo, cheetahs are an endangered species and one of ten species identified by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan for breeding in order to maintain a sustainable population.
Roni and her cubs are currently off exhibit to give them time to bond. The sex of the cubs will not be determined until their first checkup by the zoo veterinarian.
“As soon as the cubs are really moving around, and the vet is able to do a checkup, they will be viewable by the public,” said Harmon. “For now, we want to make sure the mother and cubs get plenty of time together.”
Children three to 12-years-old are invited to draw a picture of the cheetah triplets and suggest a name for each one. When they bring the submission to the zoo, the child will receive free entry for that day. The contest runs until June 4, and the top 5 submissions will win passes to the zoo.