According to a press release from the Front Royal, Va., facility, 5-year-old Amani gave birth on Dec. 6 and 9-year-old Zazi had her cub on Dec. 16. The births resulted in the facility's first-ever cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) cubs.
Since mother cheetahs that produce only one cub, called a singleton, cannot make enough milk to keep the cub alive, scientists at the Smithsonian gave Amani's cub to Zazi to nurse after it was hand-raised by staff for 13 days. It's hoped that having two cubs will stimulate Zazi to make a sufficient amount of milk.
"When we realized that Amani had a singleton, we removed the cub to hand rear it," Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist, said in the press release. "So when Zazi gave birth, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to give both cubs a chance at survival as one litter under her care without any additional interference by us. Only a few institutions in North America have ever successfully cross-fostered cheetah cubs, and this is a first for SCBI."