CINCINNATI — Five Cheetah cubs, who were born on March 8th, are now under the care of a surrogate father after their mother died during their birth. The cubs mother Willow, had to give birth via c-section and ultimately was unable to survive it. Thane Maynard, Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, revealed that Willow’s birth is a great contribution to the survival of the species. According to the, Cheetah Conservation Fund, the Cheetah population is dwindling for a number for reasons and they are now extinct in twenty countries.
Maynard also revealed that if it weren’t for the c-section performed, the mother and all of the cubs would have died. Shortly after Willow passed away, the zoo nursery enlisted the help of a resident dog to take on the role of surrogate dad to the cubs. Blakley, an Australian Shepherd, has been by the cubs side and has helped them to grow stronger since birth. The cubs even began to open their eyes over this past weekend.
For now, both Blakely and the zoo staff are doing all they can to ensure that the three male cubs and the two female cubs survive and thrive. Blakey will act as a role model for the cubs and teach them skills and lessons they would have learned from their mother, like letting the cubs climb on him as a form of exercise and to “get their guts moving.” While staff will continue to bottle feed them every 3 hours as they grow bigger. Cheetah conservation is an integral part of ensuring the species doesn’t become instinct as the population continues to reduce in size worldwide. According to statistics, the Cheetah population has shrunk from 100,000 in the 1900’s to only 9,000 to 12,000 today. Take a look at the video below to see Blakely with the five cubs.