Spotted Bundle of Fur

Posted at 3:58 pm December 3, 2010 by Sandy Craig

Well, you’ve probably seen him by now, our newest, fuzziest addition to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Animal Care Center! Say hello to Kiburi, our 19-day-old cheetah cub. His mother, Makena, who was hand raised herself, gave birth to two cubs in the late afternoon on November 14, 2010. (Read about Makena’s ultrasound procedure in New View of Cheetah Conservation). Unfortunately, one cub died a few hours after birth, and keepers had to intervene when Makena began showing signs of abandoning her remaining cub. He was brought to the Animal Care Center, where he immediately nursed a warm bottle for nursery keepers; soon after this, he began to purr. His weight at birth was less than a pound at 451 grams!

Kiburi, whose name means “proud” in Swahili, was named after longtime Senior Nursery Keeper Marcia Diehl (Marcia is Latin for “proud, warlike, or martial”). His current feeding schedule is every 2½ hrs (this schedule will change as he gets older). Park guests can view him inside of his temperature-controlled incubator; he sleeps between 16 and 20 hours a day! As he gets older, he will start to sleep less and become more and more playful. While his activity level increases, guests can look forward to seeing him in a larger play area!

Long-term plans for Kiburi are uncertain at this time, but he is most likely destined to become an ambassador to educate people about cheetahs and other endangered species. During this holiday season, make sure to bring friends and family to the Safari Park to catch a glimpse of our cute little bundle of fur!

Be sure to click on Kiburi’s images to view them in a larger size.

Sandy Craig is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous post, Gerenuk, Steenbok, and Sable Antelope Babies.

See video of Sandy feeding Kiburi.

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7 Responses to “Spotted Bundle of Fur”

  1. Grace says:

    Kiburi is soooo cute!!! Just about every news source I have visited online has shown a picture of Kiburi in the first photo posted in this blog! I am so glad to learn that he has remained strong, “proud” cheetah as he continues to grow. Thank you for the update!

  2. Dianna from Ohio says:

    How exciting to have a cheetah cub. Congrats to the Park. I watched the video and read your blog and have a few questions if you don’t mind…

    Is it normal behavior for a female to abandon her remaining cub if one dies?

    Is it possible for Kiburi to ever be reintroduced back to his mother? I see where you mentioned he will probably become an ambassador and it doesn’t appear going back to his Mom is likely?

    What is in his formula? Is it prepared special by your nutritionists or is it bought ready made from a pharma company?

    Good Luck with Kiburi! I hope you will post updates on how he is doing… He is a little cutie..

  3. Lee in Vancouver says:

    Thanks for the update on Kiburi. I’m in love with him and think he will make a wonderful ambassador. The very first time I went to the WAP, as it was called then, Alberta the gorillas had just been born and there was a serval ambassador that the staff brought out to meet the visitors. I will always remember that and do feel that animal ambassadors are needed and that Kiburi will be a welcome addition.

  4. Sandy Craig says:

    #2 Dianna from Ohio

    Kiburi’s mother is hand raised and very tractable, so when she started showing signs of abandoning the single cub, keepers made many efforts to encourage her to care for her baby. After several hours of waiting and hoping and still no signs of interest in the singleton, the decision was made to hand raise him. It is common for cheetah mothers to abandon a single cub due to their high mortality rate, and spending the energy to raise just one is not in the mother’s best interest. This is true for both animals in captivity and in the wild.

    Kiburi will not be reintroduce back to his mother. Once a female cheetah chooses to leave her cub, she abandons the cub.

    At the present time, the future for the cub is undetermined, but he is more than likely to become a part of an animal ambassador program to educate and encourage cheetah conservation.

    Our nutritionist, along with nursery keepers and veterinary staff, works to come up with a kitten milk replacer that best resembles cheetah’s natural milk. Vitamins and supplement are added to it as well.

    Thank you for you questions. You can look forward to updates on him on our website and on facebook.

  5. Lil & Bill says:

    we are planning to go to San Diego zoo this December or maybe January. We’d like to know if we will see the cheetah baby, Kiburi, then, or would it be better to wait till mid-Jan so we can see the Sumatran baby tigers, too. Of ciurse we’d like to see our favorites, the pandas. will yunzi still be with his Mama Bai around January?


    Moderator’s note: I’ll let Sandy answer your first question. As far as Yun Zi, he will likely still be with his mother in January.

  6. Debbie Andreen says:

    #5 Lil & Bill

    The tiger cubs are scheduled to be on display sometime late January. Kibiru will most likely remain at the Animal Care Center until March. We hope that by January, Kiburi will have transferred into our bigger playpen so he will have more room to play. And just to clarify, both the tiger and cheetah cubs are located at the Safari Park in Escondido, San Pasqual Valley, not at the San Diego Zoo. Look forward to seeing you at the Park!

  7. Brenda says:

    So glad to see Kiburi is still thriving. I will be visiting in early January and look forward to seeing the newest addition to such a special species. Am I correct that the larger playpen will still be in a viewable area at the Animal Care Nursery? I had hoped Delta and her cubs would be out by my next visit, but I guess it just means I’ll have to come back. I only got to see her last litter once.

    Another quick question…would the new breeding facility tour likely include the Cheetah area where Makena and Quint (and the others) are housed, or does the locations change frequently?

    Moderator’s note: Yes, Kiburi will still be visible to guests when he moves to larger quarters within the Animal Care Center. And no, none of our Ride on the Wild Side Tours visit the off-exhibit cheetah breeding facility, as it is a quarantined area.