These cute and playful cheetah quads are celebrating their first birthday today at an Austrian zoo by enjoying the warm weather in their outdoor enclosure.
Two of the four are females called Sibaya and Malkia, and two are males named Tuli and Paka, and all four live at the world’s oldest zoo, the Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo in Austria’s capital Vienna where they turn one-year-old today on 22nd June 2021.
Zoo Director Stephan Hering-Hagenbeck said: “The four of them are almost as tall as their mother. Sometimes you have to look twice to distinguish them from [their mother] Afra.”
The zoo director reported that the quads live on their own and without maternal care and are already eating as much as adult cheetahs, which is approximately up to two kilograms (4,4 lbs) of meat per day.
Head of Zoo Department Folko Balfanz said: “Their mother no longer has to keep an eye on them all the time. The four siblings jump around and chase each other until there is dust swirling through the air.”
In order to celebrate the cubs’ first birthday, the zoo carried out an experiment to test whether big cats like domestic cats love snuggling up in oversized cardboard boxes.
However, the boxes were destroyed shortly after they were brought to the animals.
Balfanz said: “Our cheetahs were extremely curious and approached the unknown objects with suspicion. The lively youngsters sniffed the boxes and then carried them away and tore them up.”
Cheetahs are listed as “Vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, but after a recent study revealed significant population declines, scientists are calling for cheetahs to be uplisted to “Endangered.”
The cheetahs in the Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo are part of the EAZA Ex-situ Program (EEP) which was formerly known as the European Endangered Species Programme.
EAZA is an organization for the European zoo and aquarium community that links over 340 membership organizations in 41 countries and its mission is to promote cooperation for furthering regional collection planning and wildlife conservation, mainly through coordinated breeding programs of wild animals.
In accordance with the program’s objectives, the two cheetah males Tuli and Paka will be transferred to other zoos when they turn one and a half years of age, while their female siblings Sibaya and Malkia will remain in the Viennese zoo for a while yet.