Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Northern Cheetah cubs, born at Fota on August 10. Photos: Darragh Kane

EARLIER this week, Fota Wildlife Park announced the birth of five new Northern Cheetah cubs to mother Grainne and father Archie.

The Northern Cheetah subspecies is considered Endangered by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as there are less than 800 left in the wild.

Some 238 cheetahs have been born at Fota Wildlife Park since 1984.

The five cubs – three females and two males – were born on August 10 and spend several hours a day playing with Mum Grainne in their habitat on Cheetah Hill at the popular Cork visitor attraction.

Grainne is four years old and was born in Fota Wildlife Park, and she previously gave birth to a litter of three cubs on Saint Patrick’s Day last year, whereas Archie (12) is a first-time dad.

Said Head Ranger, Julien Fonteneau: “We are delighted to announce the birth of five Northern cheetah cubs. As a conservation charity and a zoological intuition, the continued participation and success in European Endangered Species breeding programmes (EEP) is very important. With each year, wild populations of cheetah are coming under greater threat of extinction from habitat destruction and human persecution.

“These births are a great way to educate the public about the collaborative work that zoos do under the auspices of EAZA breeding programmes (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) to conserve the genetic diversity of endangered and vulnerable species, like the cheetah. For example, the father of the cubs, Archie, was transferred to Fota Wildlife Park from a zoological facility in Dubai to take part in the EEP here at Fota.”

Mr Fonteneau continued:” Personally this is my first time to witness the birth of such a big litter. Five cubs are certainly very rare. I’m thrilled to say that they all are thriving. The cubs are very active and a delight to see every day, up at the top of their habitat playing and annoying their mother Grainne, who seems to be taking it all in her stride. We’re asking the public to vote to name the cubs via an online form on our blog at www.fotawildlife.ie/news and to be in with a chance to win one of five Conservation Annual Passes.”

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