First captive Asiatic cheetah cubs born in Iran

(CNN) — An Asiatic cheetah has given birth to cubs at a facility in Iran, marking the first time the species has bred in captivity, according to the Iranian Cheetah Society.

Three cub cheetahs were born at the Turan Biosphere Reserve Asiatic Cheetah Breeding Center in Tehran, according to a May 1 press release from Iran’s Department of Environment.

The mother cheetah, named Iran, gave birth to her cubs via cesarean section and the babies were later moved to intensive care, according to the news release.

One of the cubs died on May 4 due to left lung malformations and pulmonary adhesion, according to Dr. Behrang Ekrami, a veterinarian at the Asian Cheetah Breeding Center.

Initially it was announced that the cheetah cubs were all female, but upon closer examination it was determined that they are male.

The birth of the cheetahs represents a breakthrough in their conservation efforts.

planting the seed

Researchers saved the mother cheetah in December 2017, after she was found in a home in Iran at 8 months old, according to Jamshid Parchizadeh, a graduate research assistant at The Global Wildlife Conservation Center and a doctoral student at SUNY College. of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York. It is believed that wildlife traffickers were planning to traffic her, he added.

Conservationists slowly began introducing her to a male Asiatic cheetah, Firouz, in 2021. He had been captured in Turan National Park to mate with her in captivity.

The cheetahs first mated on Jan. 24, 2022, and went on to mate a total of 17 times in the following days, according to the Iranian Cheetah Society.

The fact that the cheetah has shown that it can give birth means that it will likely be fertile for the next five years, Dr. Ali Selajgeh, head of Iran’s Department of the Environment, said in a press release.

On the brink of extinction

Asiatic cheetahs used to inhabit Central Asia, from the Middle East to Russia, but have now only been seen in Iran, according to the International Endangered Cat Society of Canada.

asian cheetah

The number of Asiatic cheetahs is rapidly declining, so the Iranian government has set up a breeding program to try to increase their numbers.

According to the organization, cheetahs have largely disappeared due to hunting, habitat loss and prey decline due to overhunting by humans. There are now estimated to be only 12 Asiatic cheetahs left in the wild, the Iranian Cheetah Society said in a press release. However, this figure does not include puppies, the organization added.

Being a critically endangered species, this breeding effort is of the utmost importance, according to Parchizadeh.
The researchers considered the female Iranian cheetah to be a cub because “they believed that she could give birth to cubs in the near future and these cubs could increase the number of the Asiatic cheetah population, which could be a great hope for people.” of Iran and the state of Iran,” Parchizadeh said by email.

This species of cheetah is very similar to its African cousins, he added. Both can reach speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, according to One Earth.

However, the Asiatic cheetah is paler in color and has thicker fur, Parchizadeh said.

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