World's first in vitro cheetah cubs born at Columbus Zoo

Posted at 1:32 AM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 10:44:32-05

POWELL, Ohio (AP) — Two cheetah cubs have been born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer to a surrogate mother for the first time, Ohio zoo officials announced Monday.

The male and female cubs were born to 3-year-old Izzy at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium on Wednesday, the zoo said in a statement. A team observed the births through a remote camera and are continuing to monitor Izzy and the cubs.

The biological mother of the cubs is 6-year-old Kibibi, who has never reproduced and is too old to easily become pregnant naturally.

Kibibi's eggs were extracted and then fertilized in a Columbus Zoo laboratory on Nov. 19. The early stage embryos were implanted into Izzy on Nov. 21, and an ultrasound revealed she was pregnant with two fetuses about a month later.

Dr. Randy Junge, the zoo's vice president of animal health, said this development could have broader implications for managing the species' population in the future.

It was the third time scientists had attempted the procedure and it was the first time it worked, according to zoo officials.