Record litter of eight cheetah cubs born at St. Louis Zoo

By Daniel Uria  |  Jan. 3, 2018 at 6:20 PM
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Jan. 3 (UPI) -- A cheetah at the Saint Louis Zoo gave birth to eight cubs, the largest litter born in a zoo in recorded history.

The zoo announced Wednesday 4-year-old Bingwa -- the Swahili word for "champion" -- gave birth to the three male cubs and five female cubs at the zoo's River's Edge Cheetah Breeding Center on Nov. 26.

"In over 430 litters documented by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), this is the first time a female cheetah has produced and reared on her own a litter of eight cubs at a zoo," the zoo said. "The average litter size is three to four cubs."

The cubs, which appear to be healthy and now weigh 3 to 4 pounds each, will stay with Bingwa in a private, indoor maternity den for at least three more months.

Bingwa is on loan to the zoo from the Wildlife Safari in Winston, Ore., and the zoo's curator of carnivores and mammals, Steve Bircher, said she's been a great mother so far.

"She's basically raising two litters," Bircher said. "Every time I watch her, I think, 'Wow, she's an amazing animal.' I look at them all the time."

The cubs' father, 9-year-old Jason, is on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Fla., and won't be involved in raising the cubs.

The cubs were born on recommendation from the AZA Cheetah Species Survival Plan, a program makes sure cheetahs are bred to maintain a diverse DNA population.

Bingwa gave birth to a litter of seven cubs earlier last year, but six died because she had a uterine infection zoo workers weren't aware of.

The surviving cub was transferred to a cheetah facility near Fort Worth, Texas.

More than 50 cubs have been born at the zoo's Cheetah Breeding Center.

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