Baby cheetahs live on camera. It’s hard to think of five more soothing words during these trying times (well, maybe other than “toilet paper now restocked everywhere”). But trust us, your quarantine just got a lot better, thanks to the National Zoo’s Cub Cam, which offers a real-time view of the four, fuzzy cubs—born April 8 at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal—and their five-year-old mom, Echo.
Like all Smithsonians, both the National Zoo and the Conservation Biology Institute have been shuttered to the public for nearly a month, due to the Covid-19 crisis. But the 160 animal-care staff still on site at both locations have ensured that the animals’ routines have continued uninterrupted. For now, keepers are observing the cubs just like the rest of us—via webcam—to allow Echo time to bond with her litter. For that reason, the cubs’ genders have not yet been identified.
Echo, a first-time mom, bred with four-year-old male Scott in January. Her pregnancy was confirmed February 26. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition—a group of 10 centers throughout the country that aim to create and maintain a sustainable North American cheetah population under human care.
“I’m eager to watch the newborn cubs in their early days,” said the zoo’s director, Steve Monfort, in a statement. “During this extremely tumultuous and isolating time, we want the new cheetah cam and all our live animal webcams to provide much needed moments of relief and inspiration from our natural world.”
Indeed, it appears a lot of people have been tuning in these days. According to the zoo, page-views have skyrocketed since it closed to the public March 15: panda cam views are up 530%; lion cam views are up 1,325%, and both the mole-rat and elephant cams have seen 1,075% increases. Bonus: if you’re a parent suddenly turned teacher, the zoo also offers this packet of educational webcam activities you can do at home.