The Cincinnati Zoo was handing out cigars on March 8th, when their Cheetah, Willow, gave birth to five healthy cubs via C-section. Although the cubs are doing well, the surgery proved too much for mama, and she passed away on Tuesday.
The cubs are being bottle-fed by staff in the critical care nursery, but they can’t give these babies everything they need. To the rescue? Official zoo nanny, Australian Shepherd Blakely.
Head Nursery Keeper Dawn Strasser explains, “His first job is to let the cubs climb on him, which they did as soon as they were put together. They need the exercise to build muscle tone and get their guts moving.” As the cubs grow, Blakely will serve as a role model, teaching them how to play without being too aggressive.
According to the zoo’s website, Cheetahs are endangered, and their population worldwide has shrunk from about 100,000 in 1900 to an estimated 9,000 to 12,000 cheetahs today. The three boys and two girls of the current litter will be hand-raised to become zoo ambassadors, teaching people about the fragility of the eco-system, specifically among big cats.
If you’ve not visited your zoo in a while, consider going this spring or summer. They’ve changed a lot since you were a kid, and are much more focused on conservation rather than entertainment now. In particular, the zoos in Ohio seem to be world-class. I may be biased, but I grew up going to the Cincinnati Zoo, and I’ve never found another zoo that I thought came even close, except possibly the Columbus Zoo. If you find yourself in Ohio, both are worth the visit. Or at least check out their websites and videos.
The National Zoo (part of the Smithsonian) also has animal webcams where you can watch streaming video of your favorite species. As I write this, the lions are basking in the sun, the elephants are outside and can’t be seen on the inside cam, one panda is curled up asleep, and one panda is eating. I could waste a lot of time just watching all of these magnificent creatures.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!