Cheetah cub 'adopted' by mother at Cincinnati Zoo, increasing his chances at survival

Updated

Prepare to say, "Awww."

A cheetah from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden just adopted a cub from Oregon.

The male cheetah cub joined his new family, which includes two other cubs and his mom, this week at a Cincinnati Zoo off-site breeding facility.

The cub, who has not yet been named, was introduced to the Cincinnati litter to increase his chance of survival. The cub was an only child when he was born. This posed an issue because singleton cubs don't provide enough stimulation for cheetah mothers to produce lactation.

Lucky for the cub, Cincinnati Zoo cheetah Etosha gave birth to two cubs earlier this month. Zoo keepers hoped Etosha would take care of him along with her two biological cubs if they introduced the cub.

The cub arrived in Cincinnati on Monday night and was placed in an incubator overnight to stabilize. On Tuesday, he was placed in the nest box with the other cubs.

A cub from Oregon was adopted by a cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's off-site breeding facility.
A cub from Oregon was adopted by a cheetah at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's off-site breeding facility.

Since then, Etosha has shown "great maternal behaviors," according to the zoo.

“Nursing has been observed, and she’s being attentive to all three cubs,” Tom Tenhundfeld, the zoo's Cheetah Breeding Center head keeper, said in a release.

“It’s a good thing that cheetahs can’t count!" he said.

The zoo said it would announce the cub's name on social media. The zoo gave Lighthawk Conservation Flying the opportunity to name the cub to thank the nonprofit for transporting him from Oregon.

This is not the first time a cheetah at the zoo's Cheetah Breeding Center has adopted a cub.

The Cincinnati Zoo said it would announce the adopted cub's name on social media.
The Cincinnati Zoo said it would announce the adopted cub's name on social media.

“We coordinate with the other cheetah breeding centers, so litters are born semi-close together so that if cross-fostering situations arise, the cubs are as close to the same age as possible,” Tenhundfeld said.

In 2016, Cincinnati Zoo cheetah Kathleen adopted the most genetically valuable cheetah cub in the North American zoo population. Cheetahs are deemed so because of their potential to contribute positively to the genetic health and diversity of captive cheetah populations.

The cubs are not visible to the public, but visitors can see cheetahs at the Cincinnati Zoo during regular hours.

Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Zoo cheetah adopts cub from Oregon upping survival chances

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