Historical Moment: Two Cheetah Cubs Born By Surrogate Mother

This a groundbreaking scientific breakthrough! After 20 years of trying to increase the cheetah population, there might be hope for their species yet! 

Columbus Zoo, Ohio, has reported that two cheetah cubs (a male and female) were born February 19th, 2020. The birth is thanks to a procedure that took place at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. For the first time in history, US scientists were able to delivery two cubs via vitro fertilisation (IVF), using a surrogate cheetah.

The surrogate mother, Izzy, is a three-year-old cheetah who carried the eggs harvested from six-year-old Kabibi, and sperm from a cheetah at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas. 

Timeline of the historical procedure according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo website:

  • Nov. 14 and 18: The female cheetahs were given hormone injections to develop mature follicles.
  • Nov. 19: Eggs (oocytes) were taken from Izzy and Kibibi. Neither had reproduced previously.
  • Nov. 19: Semen from male cheetah thawed and eggs fertilized.
  • Nov. 21: Team implanted nine embryos in Isabelle (Izzy) and six in second cheetah, Ophelia. A typical cheetah gestation is 93 days.
  • Dec. 23: Izzy was confirmed pregnant via ultrasound, which appeared to show two cubs. The ultrasound confirmed that Ophelia was not pregnant.
  • Feb. 16: Izzy's care providers begin an around-the-clock video birth watch
  • Feb. 19: Cubs born

How amazing is that? Thanks to all the hard working scientists who are keeping these beautiful creature from going extinct! 

Story via CBS News

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A story that will pull at your heartstrings - historical context for this squee picture below.

"Accepting her fate as an orphan of war, 'Miss Hap' a two-week old Korean kitten chows down on canned milk, piped to her by medicine dropper with the help of Marine Sergeant Frank Praytor ... The Marine adopted the kitten after its mother was killed by a mortar barrage near Bunker Hill. The name, Miss Hap, Sergeant Praytor explained, was given to the kitten 'because she was born at the wrong place at the wrong time'." - Korea, ca 1953