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Science and the Environment

IMAGES: Dickerson Park Zoo Reveals Cheetah Cubs' Genders

Credit Jessica Balisle
Cheetah Cubs and Mom, Roni

Zookeepers sprayed three cans of silly spray Tuesday at Dickerson Park Zoo to reveal the gender of their new cheetah cubs.  One can sprayed pink, and the others blue.  The cheetahs have been named Wally, Glenn and Maggie.

Zoo staff veterinarian, Rodney Schnellbacher said it will be two to three weeks before they’ll be on public view.

"We just want to be sure that the mom feels comfortable and the babies feel comfortable so we don't have her abandon them," he said.

The three cubs, born May 2, are the first born at the zoo since 2003.

Zookeeper Sheila Samek, who was in charge of the zoo’s cheetah breeding efforts, said getting the parents, Roni and Tendagi, to breed wasn’t easy since female cheetahs are solitary animals.  It was about a year and a half before her efforts were successful.

'I just threw my hands in the air and said, 'OK, I don't know what I'm doing wrong,'" she said.  "I contacted a whole bunch of different facilities that had been successful at breeding, and I was actually sitting on my phone typing an email to Omaha Zoo, and I look up, and the two cheetahs were breeding, and I was like, 'oh my goodness! The stars finally aligned.'"

It’s estimated that only about 10,000 cheetahs are left in the wild with around 300 in Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA)  accredited zoos.