First sight of cheetah cubs

A QUARTET of cheetah cubs has ventured outside for the first time at Longleat Safari Park. The litter, born to mum Wilma and dad Carl, is the largest number of cubs ever raised at Longleat, and one of the biggest litters successfully reared in the UK in recent years.

The quartet, which were born in August, initially stuck close to mum Wilma as they explored the great outdoors at the Wiltshire wildlife attraction. However it wasn’t long before they started venturing further afield and even tested out their famous turn of speed.

“Over the last few weeks all four cubs have become increasingly active and curious,” said head carnivore keeper Amy Waller. “You can never predict quite how they will react to going outside with its new sights, sounds and smells but they took it all in their stride.

“Wilma is a great mum and although she is quite protective she also seemed happy to let the cubs go exploring. They enjoyed running around and chasing each other for a while, however they quickly wore themselves out and came back to enjoy a snooze with Wilma,” she added.

These are the second litter of cubs for mum Wilma and dad Carl. The first litter, Poppy and Winston, were born in 2016 and have now both moved to other wildlife collections as part of the breeding programme.

“Both parents have very valuable genetics within the European Endangered Species Programme population as they came to us from a captive breeding population in Pretoria, South Africa,” said Amy. “This means their cubs, are also genetically distinct from the vast majority of the cheetah within Europe, which means they are even more important,” she added.

Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals; capable of top speeds of 71 miles per hour. They can cover four strides in a second with each stride measuring up to eight metres.

In the wild more than two in every three cheetah cubs die during the first two months of their life, most of them fall prey to lions, leopards and hyenas.

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.

Pictured: Ready, steady … GO! Tired now – cuddling with mum.