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Cheetah Gives Birth to 8 Cubs – a Record – at St. Louis Zoo

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The St. Louis Zoo saw a new record when a cheetah named Bingwa gave birth to eight cubs in late November.

The Missouri zoo announced the litter on Wednesday, saying the cubs are healthy but will remain in their private "maternity den" for the next few months.

The mother, 4-year-old Bingwa, which means “champion” in Swahili, has taken to her maternal duties and is caring for all eight of the cubs, KTLA sister station KTVI reports.

Bingwa was on loan to the St. Louis Zoo from Wildlife Safari, a safari park in Winston, Oregon. The cubs' father, 9-year-old Jason, was on loan from White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida.

The successful births of three males and five females are a result of an ongoing national breeding program to manage a healthy cheetah population in North American zoos, KTVI reported.

Over 50 cheetah cubs have been born at the St. Louis Zoo, which runs a cheetah breeding center.

Cheetahs typically range across Africa and Asia. Fewer than 10,000 cheetahs live in Africa; they’ve become extinct in at least 13 countries.

The reasons for the decline in cheetah population are human-cheetah conflict, interspecific competition, and lack of genetic diversity, according to KTVI's reporting.

In over 430 documented litters, Bingwa's new cubs mark the first time a cheetah has produced and reared a litter of eight cubs at a zoo, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The average size of a cheetah litter is three or four cubs, the St. Louis Zoo's website states.