Male Cheetah Cub “Cross-Fostered” at Smithsonian National Zoo (Video)

By on Feb 10, 2011 in Animals, Science, United States, World Comments
Male Cheetah Cub in a Bucket

A male cheetah cub is weighed in a bucket
at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
in Front Royal, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011.

Credit: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

According to several news reports, zoologists at the Smithsonian National Zoo were able to “convince” a 9-year-old cheetah named Zazi to become a foster parent of an at-risk cheetah cub.

Single-cub litters, known as “singletons” by zoologists, were said to be at risk because their mothers don’t produce enough milk. According to Smithsonians, mothers in the wild often let the single cubs die so that she can breed again.

In December, two cubs, one male and one female, were born 10 days apart from two mothers, Zazi and first-time mother Amani. Being both singletons, the cubs were at a great risk of getting neglected by their mothers. Because of this, the zoo tried what was said to be a risky practice known as “cross-fostering.” That is, if Zazi would adopt the other cub, the chance of her producing enough milk for the two cubs will be high. It’s a risky practice because if things do not go as planned, Zazi might injure the new cub.

Zoologists rubbed the cheetah cub in wood shavings to camouflage its unfamiliar scent when they placed him next to his prospective sister in their nest box.

When Zazi entered the nest box, she picked up the male cub and started cuddling him. Zazi started nursing him as if he was her own within a few hours.

Watch the MSNBC.com report below:

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