Two cheetah cubs arrived on October 3 at Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (NZCBI) in Front Royal, Virginia. You can check out the bundles of cuteness on the Cheetah Cub Cam until they leave the den.
The staff of NZCBI use the Cub Cam to monitor the newborns, and have been excited to see first-time mother Amani successfully care for her litter. Because caretakers don’t want to interfere with the bonding process, the cubs’ sexes—which will determine where they eventually go— are not yet known.
According to NZCBI communications director Pamela Baker-Masson, the cubs have precious genes, as cheetahs don’t have a lot of genetic diversity within the species because of their threatened natural habitats. Amani and father Asante are both first-time parents, so their cubs carry genes that are not yet represented in any cheetah. They will stay within the national breeding program, but may move to different facilities. Male cheetahs stay in coalitions while females are solitary, and where they end up will depend on whether they need to stay together.
Aside from being great for research and conservation purposes, tiny cheetahs are ridiculously adorable. Baker-Masson agrees: “[The Cub Cam] is really cute, it just looks like a bunch of spots rolling around.”