Inside the Cheetah Cage

(Image 1)

CHESTERFIELD (WRIC) – Everyone's
been talking about and thousands are watching the new baby cheetahs grow on the
Metro Richmond Zoo's webcam.

8News senior reporter Nate
Eaton got unprecedented access inside the cheetah enclosure, where the cubs
play every day.

The cubs and their mom Lana
have become stars on the cheetah cam and for good reason; they're only the
third liter both in captivity in America this year.

Metro Richmond Zoo
Director Jim Andelin got the idea to breed cheetahs about a year ago.

He put up fences, built
this compound, and brought in seven cats.

“Cheetahs are extremely
hard to breed and the fact that five babies came from this last liter is pretty
impressive,” he says. “The most successful breeding has been done when
facilities have more space for their cats.”

And space they have – four
acres to roam, play, and explore.

For now, the cubs are kept
together.

They only eat their
mother's milk and always near her, but as they grow up, the males will be moved
away from the females.

Because, unlike other
cats, cheetahs won't breed if they know their partner.

“The males are separated
and they have a visual barrier so they can't see the females.”

The big cats are just as
stunning as the babies. To prove it, Jim takes Nate inside Keeto and Haitari's
enclosure.

They walk in, holding big
sticks in case something happens. It's hard to believe these big guys were once
this small.

And as the little ones
quickly grow, the plan is to grow their cheetah family too with the zoo possibly
becoming the most successful cheetah breeding facility in America.

“We'd like to breed as
many as we can but getting two to three liters a year would be tremendous.”

 

Copyright 2013 by Young
Broadcasting of Richmond

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