Cheetahs are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species, with the African subspecies threatened and the Asian subspecies in critical condition. That's bad enough, but much more vulnerable is the King Cheetah, a rare mutation that can be recognized by a distinct fur pattern like this:
One of the main reasons why King Cheetahs are so rare is that the genetic mutation is recessive, so it must be inherited from both parents to become active. This is why the recent birth of 4 cheetah cubs at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre in South Africa is so important; while Meg, the mother, isn't a King Cheetah, her partner was, so the cubs are bearers of the rare genes. In a way, they are stealth King Cheetahs and if they reproduce with bearers of the gene - visible or not - their offsprings will be full Kings.Here is the recording of the birth, which took place about a little over a week ago:
You can also see the mother and its cubs live right here:
At this point, the staff at HESC will not approach the infant cats so that they can be cared for by their mother in the most natural way possible. That being said, monitoring is of course an important part of conservation, so the centre has set up a 24/7 webcam with live video and sound. Through this device they can not only monitor the cheetahs but also gather valuable information for future conservation efforts.
Last i checked, the mother was cleaning the cubs (so cute!).
Here's an adult Cheetah running in slow motion. This was captured at the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre:
And just for cuteness' sake, here are some Cheetah cubs from the Columbus zoo: