November 10, 2013
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Metro Richmond Zoo owner and director Jim Andelin plans to continue breeding cheetahs following the births of five cubs on his first attempt.
"I hope this wasn't beginner's luck," Andelin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The cubs were born Oct. 6 at the zoo in Chesterfield County, which also has are seven adult females and two adult males.
Andelin bought the zoo's cheetahs from a conservation center in South Africa for about $15,000 apiece, including shipping. He said that he doesn't plan to sell any cheetahs produced by the zoo, saying "that's not what we're about."
But he said that young cheetahs might be loaned to other breeding programs.
He learned the art of cheetah breeding from Karen Meeks, a cheetah expert with White Oak, a rare-species breeding center in Yulee, Fla.
"I'm proud of him, to be sure," she told the newspaper by telephone.
Unlike lions and tigers, female cheetahs lose interest if they are together with a male cheetah all the time. For the female, "it's like living with their brother," Meeks said.
Andelin used an elaborate process to encourage breeding. He put two males in an enclosure, where they left their scents, and then removed them. He then put the cubs' mother, Lana, in the enclosure.
That seemed to excite Lana, and she appeared to be more interested when she saw the males through a fence. Eventually, one of the males, Kitu, was allowed to spend time with Lana. Three months later, Lana gave birth to five cubs.
The cubs can be viewed online by the Richmond Cheetah Cam at TimesDispatch.com/cheetah-cam. The Cheetah Cam, a partnership between the zoo and the newspaper, went live on Friday.
Andelin says the Cheetah Cam will run for several months, "as long as we continue to get good footage and there is interest."