More cheetah cubs could be on the way - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

More cheetah cubs could be on the way

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

There are always new exhibits at the Metro Richmond Zoo but none quite as popular as the cheetah cubs. Richie, Rico, Chester and Amelia have taken the zoo by storm since their birth ten months ago.

Now even more excitement, maybe. These cheetahs could be getting some company.

A cheetah named Milani is the latest cheetah at the zoo that may be expecting.

But there is no way to be sure she is actually pregnant. Cheetahs are extremely difficult to breed in captivity and they often experience something known as pseudo pregnancy.

"The pseudo pregnancy is, their body for some reason thinks they are pregnant, they gain weight during the process and right near the end they lose the weight and never really were pregnant," said Jim Andelin, director of the Metro Richmond Zoo.

So far the outlook is positive for Milani but she's being watched with cautious optimism. The tough part is the waiting.

The good news is the gestation period for cheetah's is just 90-95 days.

If Milani is expecting her cubs would arrive in early September and yes, there would be Cheetah cam.

The last time Cheetah's were born at the zoo more than a million people worldwide tuned in. Now zoo officials are hoping to give visitors more cubs to monitor while also preserving these fascinating felines.

"We really think it's important to try to breed these cheetah's they're endangered, there is a great need for the genetics of these cats and it's a very difficult process," Andelin said.

It is possible to perform an ultra sound on a Cheetah but zoo officials say it is too risky to sedate Milani in just to find out if she is expecting... so they'll continue to wait.

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