Historic first as cheetah cubs born at Longleat

A rare pair of cheetah cubs are thriving after being born at Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire.

The cubs’ birth is a first for the wildlife attraction, which has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The pair, a male and a female, were born eight weeks ago and will remain indoors with mum Wilma until they are 12 weeks old.

The cheetah is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species which means it is likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

The births, which come almost five years after cheetahs first arrived at Longleat, are particularly welcome as the cubs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

Keeper Eloise Kilbane said: “Both mum Wilma and dad Carl have very valuable genetics within the European population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa.

“This means they, and their offspring, are genetically distinct from the vast majority of the cheetah within Europe.

“It’s crucial for us to be able to widen the gene pool as much as possible within the breeding programme to maintain genetic diversity and create a healthy population.”

The name cheetah comes from the Hindi word ‘chita’ which means ‘spotted’.