In pics, video: septuplet Cheetah cubs make public debut

Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph once fully grown. They are incredibly beautiful and graceful animals. Northern cheetahs are extremely rare, rumored to be less than 250 in the wild now. Recently at the Whipsnade zoo in Bedfordshire, UK, cheetah mother ,Dubai, gave birth to a seven-litter offspring. Only three litters have ever been produced in a UK zoo, and soon Dubai's cubs will be playing a vital role in the survival of their species.

The cubs are part of the zoo's European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) whose goal is to increase the population of endangered animal species. Zoo deputy,Marie Brown stated that, "She's (Dubai) bred once before. She had five cubs with her first litter, which was a couple of years ago, which was the first northern cheetahs to be born in the country so we're very excited that she's produced again and this time instead of five she's gone to seven so we're very pleased with that."

She goes onto to say, "It's quite important to maintain the genetic diversity of specific species that are endangered in the wild. We try our best by having studbooks and putting unrelated pairs together and producing animals that are the most genetically capable of coping. If eventually we were able to breed enough of them to put them back into the wild if the environment was secure enough to do that."

The septuplets were born around twelve weeks ago, and seemingly enjoyed their first outing by frolicking, playing and chasing one another around the cheetah enclosure. They had just made their public debut during a photo shoot at the Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, which is 36 miles north of London, on Wednesday, August 29th. They will be staying at the zoo with their mother, Dubai, for the next eighteen months, but eventually they will be transferred to other European zoos to take part in breeding programs.

Images:Steve Parsons

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