Longleat Keeper Hand Rears Cheetah Cub

UK: An abandoned cheetah cub is being hand-reared by its caretaker in Longleat Safari Park.


The female cub, nicknamed Xena after the warrior princess to mark her fighting qualities, spent the first 10 days being cared for by her mother Wilma.

However, she was found cold, weak and alone on April 19 and, despite many attempts to reunite the mother and baby, the keepers made the decision to remove the puppy and raise it by hand.

Keeper Matt Cleverley, who has already raised a cheetah while working in Africa, offered to take care of the little puppy with his wife Kate, who is also a keeper at Longleat.

The cub must be bottle-fed every four hours day and night until six weeks of age before she begins a meat-based diet.

This is only the second time that a cheetah cub is born in Longleat after the arrival of cubs Winston and Poppy in 2016.

The cheetah is officially classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. This cat of the subfamily Felinae is likely to become ‘Endangered’ unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

In 2008, IUCN estimated that the adult cheetah population in Africa is in the range of 7,500 to 10,000, and concerns about the number of cheetahs have declined significantly since then.

Longleat’s cheetahs are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.

Longleat is a member of the British and Irish Association of zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums.

Information Source: Longleat Safari Park
Photo courtesy of Longleat Safari Park

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