Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium proudly announces the birth of four Cheetah cubs on November 4. 2022. The four cubs were born to mother Clio and father Refu at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park.
“These cubs are a great example of the collaboration benefits among zoos,” said Dr. Jason Herrick, Vice President of Conservation and Animal Health for Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. “Not long ago, cheetahs were considered one of the more difficult species to breed in zoos. Over the last couple of decades, the members of the National Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition, including our Wildlife Safari Park, have worked together to really figure out how to breed cheetahs.”
Members of the community may not realize that there is about four-acre cheetah breeding facility off-display at the Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park that allows space for cheetahs to roam, gives them more privacy and more closely resembles their natural habitat. Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is one of nine Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited institutions that participate in the National Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition.
“In addition to the spacious, off-exhibit facilities and dedicated care staff, the key ingredient seems to be choice,” said Dr. Herrick. “For most species, we set-up one male and one female on a high stakes blind date and hope for the best. With cheetahs, the large facilities permit us to maintain multiple males and females, which allows them to pick their mate among several eligible bachelors or bachelorettes.” Dr. Herrick continued, “The result has been 29 cubs born at our Wildlife Safari Park since 2014 and a very healthy population of cheetahs in U.S. zoos.”
Clio came to Omaha in April 2022 from White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Florida and is 5 years old. Refu came from Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in March 2019 and is 8 years old. This is the second set of four cubs that Refu has sired. The first-time mother is attentive and the cubs are nursing. The mother and cubs have been left predominately undisturbed to facilitate the bonding process. It is anticipated that the cubs will have their first exam by the Zoo’s veterinary team on December 19.
Twenty cheetahs live at the Wildlife Safari Park, including 11 males, five females and the four cubs (unsexed). Additionally, five females (four sisters and their mother) live in the Scott African Grasslands at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, while two males, who are part of the Zoo’s Interactive Animals Program, live off-exhibit. Cheetahs are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species and there are only 12,000 to 15,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild.
Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska is currently closed for the winter and typically opens again around March 1. Please check the Zoo’s website at OmahaZoo.com, the Wildlife Safari Park’s website at WildlifeSafariPark.com, and social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest details and the most current schedule.