TYLER, Texas (KETK) — Three cheetah cubs were born to mother, Orchid, and father, Flap, at the Caldwell Zoo. Their birth is a significant milestone for the zoo and for the conservation of the species.

The first cub of the litter was born around 7:38 p.m. and the third arrived just before midnight on May 31.

The Caldwell Zoo said that the mother is being very attentive and the cubs are nursing comfortably as they would hope.

The arrival of the cubs is an achievement for the zoo’s breeding program which aims to support conservation efforts for cheetahs and inform the public of their importance.

“Our whole team at the zoo is so happy to announce this news of a new litter of cheetah cubs born here. The cheetah keepers work tirelessly on the welfare and wellbeing of the cheetahs in our care,” said Steve Marshall, President and CEO of the Caldwell Zoo. “Now, we will give the young family everything they need to grow and thrive.”

The gestation period for a cheetah is around 90 days. The zoo keeper team closely observed Orchid throughout her pregnancy and provided her a private area with several choices of dens. Staff said that she chose an exterior den that was custom-built for her.

Zoo keepers said that the young family requires peace, quiet and privacy, so they will use strategically installed cameras to discreetly monitor the situation.

“The first few hours are crucial,” says Ricki, a keeper for the Mammals 1 department. “We definitely want Orchid to do the mothering, but sometimes first-time mothers don’t have the instincts they need to care for the offspring. In that case, we’d have to gather up the cubs and bottle-raise them in order to save them.”

Caldwell Zoo is a member of the Cheetah Breeding Coalition and works closely with accredited zoological organizations to breed the felines.

“It takes special facilities and incredible teamwork to give cheetahs all the comforts they require in order to mate,” a release stated.

Orchid was brought to the Caldwell Zoo from the White Oak Conservation Center and “carefully introduced” to suitors Flap and Junya, from the Cincinnati Zoo. Orchid chose Flap from the two.

“This isn’t just a big deal for the zoo,” shared Kara, a keeper with the Mammals 1 team, “it’s a big deal for an endangered species. Every one of these cubs is precious.”

Since cheetahs are an endangered species due to several threats in the wild like poaching and habitat loss, participating in responsible breeding programs helps to contribute to the preservation of the animals for future generations.

Caldwell Zoo says they are dedicated to conservation and education, “striving to instill a sense of awe and respect for the natural world in all who visit.” The birth of the cheetah cubs reinforces their commitment to protecting endangered species and raising awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.