Borås zoo in south-western Sweden hopes that the two new additions, a pair of little male cheetahs named Thomas and Toulouse, will help draw visitors to the zoo later this summer.
The birth of the twins to mother Nova on June 20th is considered an unusual event, as female cheetahs are loners and getting them to breed is difficult. While conservation programmes in the wild are proving successful, breeding in captivity remains rare, despite Borås having a rather successful track record.
“It's a complicated cat which is not very easily bred in zoos. But over the last ten years, thanks to knowledge and competent zoo keepers we have had 28 kids making it to adult age,” Bo Kjellson, chief executive of Borås zoo, told the TT newswire.
The twins, who are Nova's first successful birth, are still cuddled up next to their mother in the lair, but will be released into the enclosure in two months. Their father, from a French zoo, has one previous litter of cubs.
“So we are extra happy,” said Kjellson.
Cheetahs are classed as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), based in the Swiss town of Gland.
In 2008 the IUCN estimated there to be around 7,500 cheetahs in Africa and it fears this number may have dropped to 5,000 today.
The births, which come two years after four cheetahs were born at Basel zoo, are part of the European Endangered Species Programme, of which Borås zoo is a participant.