Monday 26 September 2016

It's raining cats and... cats - Fota and Dublin Zoo welcome newborn cubs

Cormac Fitzgerald

Published 27/08/2015 | 17:04

The cheetah cubs with their mother Nimpy
Photo: Darragh Kane.
The cheetah cubs with their mother Nimpy Photo: Darragh Kane.
The cheetah cubs with their mother Nimpy Photo: Darragh Kane.

Fota Wildlife Park has asked the public for help in naming a pair of newborn cheetah cubs.

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The cubs were born on July 20 at the East Cork site and have just been introduced to the public today.

They are the 180th and 181st cheetahs to be bred at the wildlife park since it began rearing them in 1984.

However, the cubs are the first set of Northern cheetahs to be born in the park. Their mother Nimpy came to the park from France.

The Northern cheetah is endangered in its native northwest Africa. Their habitat and prey have reduced and many have died after coming into contact with larger predators and farmers.

There are only an estimated 250 Northern cheetahs living in the wild which makes the birth of the cubs highly significant.

Kelly Lambe, the head warden who looks after the carnivore section of the park, said that the cubs were doing very well.

“All of the staff at the park are delighted with the birth of our two cheetah cubs and the exceptional progress they have made in the last month,” she said.

The newest arrival to the lion pride at Dublin Zoo
Photo: Patrick Bolger Photography
The newest arrival to the lion pride at Dublin Zoo Photo: Patrick Bolger Photography
The newest arrival to the lion pride at Dublin Zoo Photo: Patrick Bolger Photography
The newest arrival to the lion pride at Dublin Zoo Photo: Patrick Bolger Photography

Director of the wildlife park, Seán McKeown, said that he was "delighted" with the cubs.

“All of the staff at the park are delighted with the birth of our two cheetah cubs and the exceptional progress they have made in the last month,” he said.

Fota Wildlife Park is highly involved in the global Cheetah Conservation Programme and Mr McKeown is also the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) coordinator for the Northern Cheetah. His duties include collecting information on the animals a producing a plan for the future management of the species.

Whoever chooses the name for the cubs that the park likes the most will be allowed to see the cheetahs and other animals up close behind the scenes on a Wild Experiences tour.

To suggest a name for the cubs visit www.fotawildlife.ie/cheetahcubs and fill in the form with your suggestion.

Meanwhile, Dublin Zoo are celebrating the birth of a female Asian lion cub.

The cub was born on June 25 to mother Zita and father Kumar.

It is the third Asian lion cub to be born at the zoo since May, 2014.

It will join its sister Kyna and half brother Kuno as part of the pride at Dublin Zoo.

Asian lions are an endangered species with only 350 of the animals living in the wild.  The entire world population can be found at one place - the Gir Forest in India.

Dublin Zoo said that the births of the cubs is very important for their international breeding programme.

The cheetah cubs with their mother Nimpy
Photo: Darragh Kane.
The cheetah cubs with their mother Nimpy Photo: Darragh Kane.

Team leader at the zoo, Ciaran McMahon, said that he was thrilled with the new arrival.

"These lions are endangered in the wild and it is important for conservation that zoos maintain a viable population of Asian lions," he said.

"The female cub is settling in very well. At 10 weeks old she now weighs an estimated 5kg and has developed a strong bond with mum Sita.”

The zoo are appealing to the public for help in naming the cub. Name suggestions can be submitted at www.DublinZoo.ie from 9am tomorrow.

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