An Asiatic cheetah has given birth to three cubs at a facility in Iran, marking the first time the critically endangered species have been bred in captivity.
The triplets were born at the Touran Wildlife Refuge in the Semnan Province, east of the capital Tehran. The young cheetahs were delivered at the Asiatic Cheetah Breeding Centre via caesarean section, according to an announcement by Iran's Department of Environment on 1 May.
Vice President of the Environmental Protection Organisation, Ali Selajgeh, said: "Considering that this is the first birth of an Asiatic cheetah in captivity, we hope by keeping these cubs, we can increase the cheetah population in captivity and then in semi-captivity, which will be a great help in conservation."
— Iranian Cheetah Society | انجمن یوزپلنگ ایرانی (@IranianCheetah) May 1, 2022
He added that less than 20 cheetahs have been observed across seven provinces; Semnan, Kerman, Yazd, Isfahan, Razavi, North and South Khorosan, which are considered to be the main remaining habitats of the species. Earlier this year it was reported that the Asiatic Cheetah's population was down to just 12, from an estimated 100 in 2010.
It was originally announced that the cheetah cubs were all female, but after further examination it was determined they are male. After birth, the cubs went into intensive care, however on 4 May it was reported that one of the cubs died due to a lung deficiency.
A veterinarian at the centre, Dr. Behrang Ekrami, said that the other two cubs have gained weight and the research team at the centre is monitoring their behaviour and nutrition round the clock.
In January, following conservation efforts, the Iranian Cheetah Society announced that the mother, named Iran had successfully mated with a male Asiatic cheetah "Firooz" and described it as "a big step forward for Iranian cheetah conservation".