Pets & Animals

Help name a very rare (and very cute) cheetah cub

A litter of rare king cheetahs made history at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center last month, but they still need one more thing — a name.

The conservation center in Greenwich, Connecticut, is asking the public to chime in by submitting a name on its website for one of the eight cubs born to their mom, Mona Lisa, in September.  

Because there are only believed to be an estimated 30 king cheetahs in the world, the large litter was a very welcome addition — and surprise — to the center, which is dedicated to saving species on the verge of extinction. Mona Lisa came to the non-profit in 2010 to participate in its cheetah breeding program, and while she was able to get pregnant, the center was shocked last month when she gave birth to such a large litter. 

“It’s amazing. I’m still pinching myself,” Marcella Leone, co-founder of the center, told TODAY. “An average litter is two to four.”

Marcella told TODAY that she is hoping to send two of the baby cheetahs back to Africa, while the rest will stay in the center’s breeding program or go to zoos throughout the country.

“If people can see these animals, they form a connection,” Marcella said. “They will want to protect the wild places they come from and the animals.”