5 cheetah cubs born at Va. zoo

Rare cheetah cubs born in captivity have yet to be named

POSTED: 10:45 AM PDT October 21, 2013    UPDATED: 7:11 AM PDT October 22, 2013 
Cheetah cubs Virginia zoo
RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -

Five cheetah cubs were born earlier this month at the Metro Richmond Zoo in Virginia.

The zoo announced the births and released some photos of the cubs Monday.

"The cubs, three males and two females, were born to Lana, a 4-year-old first-time mom, and Kitu, a 5-year-old first-time dad, at the zoo's new cheetah breeding center," zookeeper Jim Andelin wrote in an email. "Despite being a first-time mom, Lana has shown excellent mothering skills and the cubs are growing rapidly under her care."

Andelin called the births significant because cheetahs are endangered and their numbers "in the wild" are in drastic decline.

He said there are only 10,000 cheetahs remaining in the wild, mostly in Africa.

"Breeding cheetahs in captivity is very challenging with a very small portion of the population reproducing," Andelin said. "This birth is very significant, as it represents only the third litter born in the U.S. this year and the first ever for the Metro Richmond Zoo."

The cheetah cubs have yet to be named.