In a massive scientific breakthrough, two cheetah cubs were born through in vitro fertilization to a surrogate cheetah mother for the first time ever.
The cubs, which include one male and another female, were born at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio on 19th February to their surrogate mother, Izzy, a three-year old cheetah. The biological mother is a six-and-a half-year-old cheetah called Kibibi, who was considered old to become pregnant naturally.
According to Smithsonian’s National Zoo, scientists retrieved eggs from Kibibi in November last year and fertilized it with the semen collected from a male cheetah called Slash living at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Texas. These fertilized embryos were then transferred to Izzy. Post a three-month pregnancy, Izzy gave birth to the two adorable cubs.
The mother Izzy, a first-time mother, and the cubs are in good health post the process and are being monitored across the day through remote cameras.
This is a huge leap as cheetah populations have been dwindling across the world – today, there are only 7,000 species of the cheetah remaining in the world and they have become extinct in 13 countries across the world. Apart from habitat loss and poaching, illegal pet trade is also responsible for the reducing numbers of this majestic creature.
“These two cubs may be tiny but they represent a huge accomplishment, with expert biologists and zoologists working together to create this scientific marvel,” said Dr. Randy Junge, the Columbus Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Health. “This achievement expands scientific knowledge of cheetah reproduction, and may become an important part of the species’ population management in the future.”
This is only the third time ever that scientists have attempted an IVF and embryo transfer process for cheetahs and the first time ever that cubs were successfully born.
While it is unfortunate that cheetahs are counted among the vulnerable species, this news certainly is a great ray of hope. Do you agree? Do let us know your views in the comments section below.