Friday, 26 July 2019

Early first pregnancy is the key to successful reproduction of cheetahs in zoos


JULY 9, 2019

Cheetah experts in many zoos around the world are at a loss. Despite all their efforts, cheetahs often do not reproduce in the desired manner. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), together with colleagues from the Allwetterzoo Münster, have now found a key to the issue: The age of the mothers at the first pregnancy is the decisive factor. In contrast to animals in the wild, felines kept in zoos are often bred only years after they have reached sexual maturity. From the study results, the researchers derive recommendations for keeping cheetahs in zoological gardens. The study was published in the journal Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research.
The concentration of cheetah stress hormones, as measured over several weeks as metabolites in the feces, was as high in mothers as in females who had no offspring. Instead, the age of the mothers is the decisive factor. "We saw from the stud books that the reproduction failed when the females were six years or older at their first introduction to a male," says Bettina Wachter from Leibniz-IZW, head of the study.


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