Fota Wildlife Park has announced the birth of four Northern cheetah cubs, two males and two females, who were born last month to mother Nimpy and father Claude who are both nine years of age.
Although mother Nimpy is keeping her cubs safely and securely in the den where they were born, they are starting to become active and can be viewed in the camera screen at their habitat on Cheetah Hill.
Kelly Lambe, Lead Ranger said: “The Northern Cheetah is considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Cheetahs face many threats to their population including the conversion of their natural habitat, grasslands, to agricultural zones, conflict with humans and competition for food with other large predators such as lions, leopards and hyenas.”
“The cheetah is the most recognisable species here at Fota as not only does it form part of our logo but the studbook for the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for the Northern cheetah is run by the Park’s director - Sean McKeown."
More than 200 cheetahs have been born at Fota since 1985 and many have formed part of cooperative breeding programmes in wildlife parks and zoos across Europe -ensuring the genetic diversity of the species.
The involvement in the EEP helps ensure that the world’s fastest land animal does not become extinct and with so few Northern cheetahs existing in the wild, approximately 500, the birth of these cubs is very important for their population.
Mother Nimpy and father Claude both came from La Palmyre Zoo in France to Fota Wildlife Park in 2012 as part of the EEP and although Nimpy had already bred before, this is the first time that Claude has successfully bred at Fota.
The Cheetah as a species has been in existence for between 3.5 and four million years - making it the oldest of Earth’s big cats. Slender bodies, long legs and a flexible spine help the Cheetah achieve speeds more than 100kph in pursuit of its prey, with its tail acting as a finely-tuned balancing aid. It also has semi-retractable claws and cannot roar like other big cats.
Fota Wildlife Park is set on 100 acres in the heart of Cork Harbour and is open daily from 10 am. Fota Wildlife Park is a non- profit conservation organisation and is part of the Zoological Society of Ireland.
The six-week-old cubs do not have names and the iconic County Cork visitor attraction is calling on the public to help name the cubs and be in with a chance to win a year-long conservation membership for each name chosen, entry forms can be found online on http://www.fotawildlife.ie/blog.