The Wilds welcomed a litter of six cheetah cubs born at the conservation facility on October 30 to mother, Pumzika, and father, Finnick.
This litter is Pumzika’s, first, and The Wilds’ animal management team notes that she is providing great care to her cubs. Because Pumzika is a first-time mom, The Wilds’ animal management team continues to ensure that any potential disturbance of the cubs and their mother in their den box is limited and minimal. Yesterday, staff worked diligently and quickly to provide well checks on all of the cubs. During these exams, the team learned that the litter consists of three males and three females, and the cubs appear to be healthy and are growing steadily.
Five-year-old Pumzika was born at the San Diego Safari Park and arrived at The Wilds in July 2019. Finnick is seven years old and came to The Wilds from the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fla. in 2014. Finnick has been the father of three previous litters at The Wilds.
Although Pumzika and her cubs will not be out of their behind-the-scenes den for a few months, guests may have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the litter in their den on a television monitor in the Carnivore Center at The Wilds during a Wildside Tour sometime within the next several weeks.
“The birth of these rare cheetah cubs is cause for celebration. They are adorable, but more importantly their births represent a significant contribution to the sustainability of this species’ population, and we are extremely proud to be directly involved in protecting the future of cheetahs,” said The Wilds Vice President Dr. Jan Ramer.
The cubs’ birth was the result of breeding recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Cheetah Sustainability Program—part of a Species Survival Plan® (SSP)—a program coordinated by AZA and Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) to manage a sustainable population of cheetahs, whose numbers are declining in their native range. The Wilds is one of nine cheetah breeding centers created through this initiative to ensure a sustainable cheetah population in human care.
“As an organization committed to wildlife conservation, we recognize the importance of helping to preserve a sustainable cheetah population in human care, and we are also grateful for the support of our Ohio communities as this enables us to continue contributing to projects benefiting cheetahs in Africa. From working with communities living within cheetahs’ native ranges and helping to reduce farmers’ livestock losses to cheetahs by introducing Anatolian shepherd guard dogs, to assisting with health exams of cheetahs in Africa and learning more about cheetah populations through camera traps, scat analysis and habitat monitoring, we remain dedicated to working with our conservation partners to make a positive impact on the future of cheetahs,” said Columbus Zoo and Aquarium President/CEO Tom Stalf.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), cheetahs are considered vulnerable in their native ranges in Africa. Due to threats including habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with livestock and game farmers and unregulated tourism, cheetahs now inhabit just 10 percent of their historic range in Africa and are almost completely extirpated from their historic range in Asia.