Watch Live: Cheetah Mother Nurtures Newborn Cubs at Smithsonian

by Jon D. B.

On Tuesday, October 12, Cheetah Rosalie gave birth to five cubs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and they’re as adorable as cubs come.

As the live feed from Smithsonian’s Cheetah Cub Cam rolls, mother Rosalie is catching some shuteye as her cubs nurse. All five little ones are the size of a coke can right now; each snuggled tightly into their caring mum. It’s as peaceful as it sounds, and you can see it for yourself 24/7 via SCBI’s live broadcast here.

“Seeing Rosalie successfully care for this litter — her first — with confidence is very rewarding,” Adrienne Crosier, the SCBI’s cheetah reproductive biologist, tells the institute in a press release. “Being able to witness the first moments of a cheetah’s life is incredibly special.”

Around 7:30 AM Thursday, the cubs would wake up and stretch their tiny limbs. Mother Rosalie would do the same, as raising weans is no easy feat – especially when there’s five of them.

Soon, the cubs would be crawling all over her and each other. The straw bedding of their enclosure makes for comfy surroundings, and the tiny cats seem as content as can be.

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is heavily invested in the survival of the cheetah species. Together with male Nick, Rosalie would help secure the future of her kind, which are currently listed as “vulnerable” to extinction.

It’s tempting to become too involved with the cubs, but SCBI staff knows its best to let wild babies bond with their mother only. They’re keeping their distance as a result – something that becomes harder with every passing adorable moment, gesture, and surprise.

Smithsonian Cheetah Cam Gives Front Row Seats to the Miracle of Life

SCBI staff also use the Cheetah Cub Cam to view the young ones, just like the public can. It’s an overhead webcam in their den, which gives any and all front-row seats to the miracle of life.

“As webcam viewers watch our cheetah family grow, play and explore their surroundings,” biologist Crosier adds. She hopes the experience brings joy to the public, alongside helping them “feel a deeper connection to this vulnerable species.”

Crosier is also head of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan. To say she has a soft spot for these spotted big cats would be an understatement. Many across the world feel the same, with these unique African cats sparking the imaginations of countless humans.

But the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute continues to lead the charge here in America. They’re part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition: a relatively large group of 10 U.S. breeding centers. Their goal is to grow the big cats’ population as much as possible. Taking them off the “vulnerable” list would be a dream for Crosier and her colleagues, as well as all of us conservationists.

Once SCBI staff can perform a health check, they’ll know the sexual orientation of each baby. This won’t happen until mother Rosalie is comfortable enough to leave them for a long enough period. This shouldn’t take as long as you’d think, though, as Rosalie has been trained for ultrasounds. Her keepers have her trust, and that alone is a remarkable thing.

Rosalie’s cheetah litter is the 16th born to SCBI in Virginia since 2007. Here’s to many more to come.