The Saint Louis Zoo announced Wednesday that a cheetah named Bingwa gave birth to a litter of eight cubs — twice the size of an average litter — on Nov. 26.
The first few months of a cheetah cub’s life is critical, according to a release from zoo officials. Bingwa, who is four years old, and all eight of her cubs have been closely monitored and are all reported to be healthy.
“She has quickly become adept at caring for her very large litter of cubs — grooming, nursing and caring for them attentively,” Steve Bircher, curator of mammals and carnivores at the Saint Louis Zoo, said in the release.
Of over 430 cheetah litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the release stated, this is the first time a cheetah has reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo.
Bingwa, which means “champion” in Swahili, is on loan to the Saint Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. The cubs’ father, Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida.
“We’ve brought together cheetahs from great distances to continue this important breeding program,” says Bircher. “These handsome cats add genetic diversity to the North American Cheetah SSP population.”
Since 1974, the release stated, over 50 cubs have been born at the Saint Louis Zoo.