Three newborn cheetah cubs at After Hours Veterinary Hospital in Christchurch.
Three newborn cheetah cubs at After Hours Veterinary Hospital in Christchurch. Kurt Bayer

Newborn cheetah cubs fighting for their lives at zoo

THREE newborn cheetah cubs are fighting for their lives after being born at a Christchurch zoo.

First time cheetah mother Mazza gave birth to a litter of five at Orana Wildlife Park on Saturday afternoon, but two have died.

The three surviving cubs, two males and a female, are now in incubators at Christchurch's After Hours Veterinary Hospital.

Orana Park zoological manager Rob Hall says they've managed to survive the critical 48-hour period and their chances of survival increases with each passing hour.

"One cub is nursing reasonably well which is great news but the other two are not feeding well at this point," he said.

"Park staff, along with the team at the After Hours Hospital, are working around the clock tending to the needs of these cats."

Staff are now awaiting an emergency post mortem which may provide information that helps them save the remaining cubs.

"First time cheetah mothers can often loose their litter due to inexperience," Mr Hall said.

"Mazza was observed on camera through the birth process and did not care for the cubs so the decision was made to take them from her.

"Two further cubs were found under a tree that was out of the camera's view and their body temperature had dropped to critical levels."

Cheetah are a flagship conservation species for Orana Wildlife Park.

Only a small number of zoos worldwide have experienced repeated breeding success with the species.

To date, 18 cats have been raised to adulthood at Orana.

"Producing more cubs is a significant achievement, as cheetah are a notoriously difficult species to breed in captivity, and we are doing all we can for these precious cubs," Mr Hall said.

Mazza, 4, was also born at the park and she, along with her three brothers, was hand-raised by park staff when their first time mother rejected them.

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