TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - There’s a saying that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and at least in the animal kingdom, that has proven true recently in Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo.
A cheetah named Paca gave birth at Wildlife Safari in Winston, Oregon. She only delivered one cub, however, and could not produce enough milk to nourish the little one. Though she cleaned the cub and nursed as much as she could, according to carnivore supervisor Sarah Roy, the lack of milk was dangerous for the cub.
“Since Paca’s milk was starting to not produce as much, her hormones were already adjusting to reject her cub. If keepers bottle fed her, mom would no longer accept her,” the staff posted to concerned Facebook fans.
In what seemed almost like divine intervention, at around the same time, a cheetah at Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo gave birth to four cubs. They announced the news on Facebook on Oct. 24.
“Yes, it’s true. Mary Jo, one of our resident females, is the proud mother of four adorable, healthy cubs," they announced.
The decision was made between the zoos to help the single Oregon cub thrive, and three staffers from Wildlife Safari made the long drive to Tyler’s Caldwell Zoo to allow new mom Mary Jo to adopt the little one, which Roy and her staff at Wildlife Safari named Kubwa, which she said means “large” in Swahili.
“She was a really healthy girl, bigger than any three-day old I’d ever seen,” Roy said.
They arrived in Tyler with Kubwa on Oct. 21, and she was successfully added to Mary Jo’s litter.
When the staff was asked on Facebook if Paca was dealing well with the cub being removed, they replied, “Our staff made the decision to step in before the health of the baby was compromised. Keepers have been keeping a very close eye on Paca, and she is doing well without any noticeable changes.”
Roy said that when Paca has a full litter in the future, she is confident that the cubs well be well taken care of by her because of the maternal care she showed to her single cub Kawa.
The cub has been accepted by Mary Jo and is doing well, according to Wildlife Safari. They say that where the cub goes after a year with its new mother is a carefully considered process.
“Wildlife Safari is an AZA accredited institution, and we work very closely with the SSP or Species Survival Plan. The purpose is to match animals together who will produce the most genetically valuable offspring to create a healthy population in zoos. Cheetah cubs will also stay with their mother until 12-14 months of age. So once she has been separated from mom, the decision on where she will go next will be determined," they wrote.